“Why do people see actions and understand words differently?”
“How do different perspectives impact a community?”
“How do we challenge our assumptions about others?”
These were some of the questions raised during the recent Kids4Peace Boston overnight camp for rising 7th and 8th graders. Kids4Peace is a grassroots youth movement operating in Jerusalem and the United States that fosters interfaith dialogue and cooperation between Jewish, Christian, and Muslim 6th through 12th graders from diverse religious, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds. The program provides participants with the leadership skills and tools to resolve conflicts, build bridges, and repair divisions in their own communities.
Today, there are countless social issues that need to be addressed. It can be understandably hard for young people to confront the reality of the deep divides that exist between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians, and to feel that they can change the situation. Kids4Peace in Jerusalem provides students with training to become change agents in their local communities.
Through this program, Palestinian and Israeli middle schoolers learn about each other’s cultures and experiences. The 9th grade students are then taught public speaking and political advocacy skills to share their stories more effectively. By 12th grade, students are tasked with creating their own sustainable community projects to promote lasting change.
Kids4Peace also works in the United States and uses many of these same methods to address and social tensions and divides. Students learn from encounters with peers from diverse backgrounds, conversations about controversial topics, and from using their leadership skills to improve and serve their local communities.
In high school, summer leadership training programs give US students the chance to meet Israeli and Palestinian peers, exchange ideas, gain a global perspective on working for peace, and provide encouragement for future change efforts. Recently, I attended the Kids4Peace Boston summer celebration where I heard from 9th and 10th grade summer program participants. These youth discussed their identities and faith-based activism, and, as one student reported, “learned how to communicate with people who often had different and challenging perspectives.”
Boston participants share that the program has equipped them with leadership skills, advocacy tools, and a deeper set of values that will ultimately help to foster a new generation of global citizens.
I encourage you to get in touch with Kids4Peace to learn about this incredible organization and participate in creating real change here and in Israel.
As the Kids4Peace mission statement lays out, “If we aim to be at peace with each other, we need to see the humanity in every human.” And, as one 10th grade participant from Boston explained, “Kids4Peace is important to me because it brings youth with different views together to create change…in a world where sometimes that feels impossible.”
Learn more at https://www.kids4peaceboston.org and http://www.k4p.org.