The Rotary Club of Homer is collaborating with a German foundation aimed at cultivating peace through painting. The Together in Peace Foundation has been running its United Paintings program throughout Europe for 21 years.
The initiative aims to educate elementary-aged children about the idea of peace through curriculums in the classroom. At the end of the program, kids express what peace means to them by painting on canvas banners.
The program will now take root right here in Alaska. The founder of the program, Olaf Ring, contacted Homer Rotary Club President Jane Little about implementing the program in the U.S. earlier this month.
Little said she has been looking for a project for some time, and she jumped at the opportunity to work with Ring.
“Right now, he has about three miles of length of banner, and what our goal is to get another three miles in Alaska, the Yukon and the U.S. in the next two, two and a half years,” Little explained, “So we can present this string of banners at the Rotary International Convention in Germany in 2019.”
Little has served as district governor for Rotary clubs in Alaska and Canada, and she said the project will fit the humanitarian organization’s mission. She will be working with the Rotary Club of Fairbanks to design a curriculum for the program.
“What we see this as is not a one-day project, but perhaps several weeks or months of having the curriculum to teach the children about peace,” Little said. “Then at the end of it, have them paint a picture that is peace and also depicts their hometown, their community, their school.”
Painting pictures can seem like such a simple idea, but Little likes the program’s ground-up approach because it cultivates understanding of others and helps broaden understanding of what peace can look like.
“I think that for most of us that are involved in the peace movement of some sorts is that we will see a kinder, gentler world. We’ll see people that are able to get along better and that we’ll have dialogue,” she said. “It’s one person at a time.”
Little explains the topic of peace can be a large one, and she doesn’t know exactly what the U.S.-based program will look like. She plans to work with schools throughout Alaska, the Yukon and the Lower 48. Little hopes to have a timeline for its implementation later this summer.
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