Students in the US have been given a Children’s Courage of Conscience Award for their on-going work creating a giant book about peace.
With 500 double-sided pages measuring 10 feet by 12 feet, and weighing in at one tonne, once completed Pages for Peace will be the world’s biggest book.
Behind the project is a group of children from Groton-Dunstable Regional Middle School, in Groton, Massachusetts. They were presented with the prize by the Peace Abbey, in recognition of their services to peace. Previous recipients of the Courage of Conscience Award include civil rights activist Rosa Parks and Mother Theresa.
The book is being filled with letters, poetry, artwork, photographs and songs collected in answer to questions that club members posed to various peacemakers around the world.
Teacher Betsy Sawyer was inspired to create the project after attending a Jimmy Cliff concert. “It’s up to us to teach the children about peace,” the activist and reggae musician sang. So, taking it upon herself to empower her pupils, Betsy set up an after-school group in 2004, called the Bookmakers and Dreamers Club. Six years later, the club has grown from just seven members to 127.
Every Monday, the teenagers meet at the Department of Peace – a school room specially designated for them. “Every inch of every wall is covered with their artwork and quotes,” says Betsy. “It is such an inspiring space.” Students spend their time researching about individual peacemakers and contacting thousands of others. The group have been inundated with replies from teachers, politicians, veterans and Nobel Laureates, including Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama.
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