September 21 marks the United Nations’ International Day of Peace. Every year, we observe the importance of world peace on this day at The Harbour School by wearing white to school and engage in the many activities created for every grade at the school.
This year marks the 37th year in which the United Nations encouraged the world to work together “toward the goal of worldwide peace”. The theme this year is the “Right to Peace” commemorating 70 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed by the United Nations in 1948, after the second World War.
Every now and again, it is easy to lose heart and hope in this troublesome world where politics seem to create new battlegrounds daily. I think it’s important to be reminded that each one of us, whatever our age, gender or background, can contribute to this cause in some way. It begins with showing kindness, consideration and respect to the next person.
So on this day, let us recognise the good, work together to instill hope that may be lost, and indeed attempt to strengthen the ideals of peace. We need to remember that we can all do something, even as a small community, in some small way, to bring people together.
In my opinion, community outreach and participation are the only ways to show the younger generation that what they do have impact and that we are paying attention. We must do what we can to ensure we leave the world a better place than when we arrived.
At The Harbour School, we will begin International Day of Peace gifting mooncakes to the elderly community in Ap Lei Chau. Last year, we gave away more than 300 boxes of mooncakes donated by THS families to the elderly in the neighbouring estates and we were warmed by the smiles and happiness this goodwill gesture brought to the community.
To inspire kindness and uphold peace are both causes very close to my heart and is also at the very core of THS principles. In May, the school carried out our very first “100 Acts of Kindness Challenge”. Not only was it important to be kind, to show gratitude and celebrate peace, each class was also encouraged to participate in a small “pay it forward” activity. There were a range of activities that students came up with from a reading buddy program, to beach clean ups, to making care cards and notes delivered to others, to one class which thoughtfully put together small gift bags of sweets and treats for the security guards on campus. We ensured peace offerings, no matter how small they were, were acknowledged and celebrated. As a collective, we showed compassion and care - the building blocks that make peace.
According to the United Nations, the “goal is to strengthen the efforts of peace within and among nations and people”. We recognise how challenging that goal is given the differences and divisions that separate humanity. But such a lofty goal can only be achieved by a “never say never” positive attitude coupled with an unwavering commitment to always instill hope, kindness, gratitude, faith and peace. I sometimes marvel at the things we achieve with this positivity.
So what have we got lined up on this important day? Here's a list of the many activities that your child may be engaged in as part of his/her morning routine during OHMroom. These are also small things you too can do at home:
Observe a minute of silence at midday - “breath in the world, breathe out the peace”
Bring in a mindfulness activity to teach mindfulness skills.
Plant a peace garden at school or home.
Organize and take part in a fundraising project to benefit others in the world.
Bring in different cultural foods for a special lunch and have children talk about the tradition of the food they brought to share.
Create a Peace Day song and a short performance.
Create a collaborative peace collage with images and words that communicate peace.
Make a painting, collage, mural or drawing of children around the world, or of an issue related to the environment. What responsibility do we have for children in the world and our environment?
Have each student write and draw a Peace Pledge.
Compose poetry, haikus or free prose on peace and display them with artwork around the school.
Invite someone who is involved in social work, in upholding justice or environmental work for a special assembly or interactive workshop. What are the challenges to creating a more peaceful world? What kinds of actions can make a difference?
Create a story on “how you were a peacemaker?”
We look forward to observing International Peace Day with you - celebrating what is amazing, what is great and what we can do, even in some small part, to bring more peace into our word.