On Tuesday November 19, 2013 a group of students and leaders began a journey that will forever change their lives.
These individuals are part of the Peace Learning Center. This is an organization in Indianapolis that “educates, inspires and empowers people to live peacefully.”
In 1997 the center was started by a couple of residents who were concerned about neighborhood and family violence. These residents took initiative and the results of their vision have begun a movement of peace that is far-reaching. Now the Peace Learning Center serves schools, community nonprofits, businesses and juvenile correction facilities. This organization has reached over 165,000 people locally and internationally to help promote peace-building and conflict resolution. Building a community of peace begins here in Indianapolis, but it most certainly does not end here. This is why this group of peace-makers is traveling to Africa to bring students from the Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School, an administrator, social worker, two Saving Orphans Through Healthcare Outreach representatives (host organization for the trip), two RN’s, a photographer and Jay Horan, Volunteer Coordinator at the Peace Learning Center.
I had the privilege of interviewing Jay Horan personally before the group left for their journey. When asked what the group will be doing while in Swazi, Africa, she replied:
“We will be leading health education initiatives at four Swazi High School Convocations. In addition, we will be participating in extensive dialogue with the Swazi Youth Leadership groups, facilitating further dialogue with civic leaders and heal and social services providers, contributing to community health clinics, distributing $40,000.00 of donated school uniforms, shoes, clothing, computers and hygiene products. We will also be working in orphanages and serving the most vulnerable children.”
What do you hope this journey will do for your group?
“It is everyone’s hope that the students (as well as the adults) will return with a better understanding of global health challenges, a heightened sense of social awareness and passion to make a difference in our local community.”
What do you hope to bring back to Indianapolis following this trip?
“Indianapolis’ population is changing and growing more diverse. As an organization, we have made it our goal to help Indianapolis become more of an engaged and inclusive city. Upon my return, with a developed awareness and appreciation of global diversity (even right here in Indy!), I hope to help the Peace Learning Center establish more communication between groups in our community so that we can address community challenges collaboratively and effectively!”
How do you feel Global Initiatives like your mission to Africa impact the city of Indianapolis?
“Many of these students will become physicians, nurses and public health professionals. Others will grow up to be educators, counselors, and even policy makers. There is no doubt in my mind that they will all be inspired by this to make a difference. HIV/AIDS continues to be an issue in Indiana in spite of progress in treatment and research. Health care experts suspect that there are significant numbers of infected youth who are unaware of their status and who pose a threat to many of their peers. The ultimate goal is that they will gain the experience and skills to lead the community of Indianapolis to make healthy choices. “
While PLC provided the facilitation and training framework for the activities and programs, they would like it to be noted that many community partners played a huge role in educating and prepping the students for their journey. Program trainers included: IU Bloomington’s School of Public Health, Butler University College of Education and Timmy Global Health.
The Peace Learning Center is one wonderful example of a local organization that is making a big impact. A culture of peace begins in our own communities. It expands through education, learned respect and dialogue. That is what PLC understands and why the organization has devoted itself to promoting collaboration and good works that serve humanity. I am in such admiration of this organization and believe their efforts should be promoted.
Another one of their most recent projects deserves mentioning. The Peace Learning Center has launched a 1 million dollar campaign to support their BE PEACE initiative. The BE PEACE campaign will help expand programs like the Peace Crew who provide training and support for the students traveling to Swaziland. The services PLC provides are offered at no cost or discounted prices ensure access to those in most need. It takes only $100 for Peace Learning Center to change one person’s life forever. More than $.93 of every dollar donated to PLC is directly used for programs. This means that every single dollar given is a direct investment in more peaceful communities and a better world. If you would like to make a donation, please visit: http://peacelearningcenter.org/be-peace-campaign.
Stay tuned for a follow-up article when the group returns…
Best wishes to our peace-making travelers!