By Corinne Henneberry
It surely was a youth takeover this weekend at the PeaceFirst award ceremony, recognizing 10 extraordinary youth leaders who are focused on creating peace within their schools and communities.
PeaceFirst believes that it is the young people who have the power to create positive change around them. As Eric Dawson, president and cofounder of PeaceFirst, stated at the award ceremony, “young people everyday are problem-solvers and we give them the tools and the opportunities to go out and make the world a better place.”
It was inspiring to meet Bella, a fifth grader and award recipient from Colorado, eager to share her movement called ‘Be A Buddy Not A Bully’ that she shares throughout her school. As Bella claims, “I was chosen as a winner because of the 3 c’s: change, courage and compassion; If someone falls on the playground and I’m playing with my friend and I see them, I run over”.
Award recipient, Emily-Anne of WeStopHate, claims that “this program is a call to action to stop against hate on others and most of all to stop letting others hate on you.”
These are just a couple of reasons why National Spokesperson, America Ferrera has jumped on board. She first heard about PeaceFirst as a freshman in college and she began volunteering at inner-city elementary schools where she would teach collaboration, problem solving and coping skills to children who may experience violence in their day to day lives.
When I spoke with America, she reiterated the backbone of the PeaceFirst mission.
“PeaceFirst is about empowering the young people who know the issues they’re facing better than anyone ever will and empowering them to solve their problems,” said America. “We as the adult world around them need to give them the education, tools and platform to do that.” As an actress, she does not align every role she takes with her beliefs, however, if violence is depicted, it must be necessary and serve purpose. America is an Ambassador for PeaceFirst and this year, after receiving a degree in International Relations, she is confident to say that, “passion for telling stories and passion for film-making aligns with my passion for doing things I care about.” By the looks of that big smile on her face, she knows that her passion and commitment to supporting our youth is the first step to a brighter, more peaceful, future — for us all.
Browse this list of links and resources for making higher education more affordable for you