Looking Forward and Building Peace: the 2023-24 Peace Innovators

3 minute read
The 2023-2024 Peace Innovators

What happens when high school students want to make a difference in their communities? They have an idea, are passionate about peace, and want to make it a reality -- but aren’t sure where to start? The answer is to participate in the Peace Innovators Scholarship and Mentoring Program!

The Peace Innovators Scholarship and Mentoring Program, based out of the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement at Conrad Grebel College at the University of Waterloo and partnered with The Ripple Effect Education, equips young leaders with skills to tackle a problem they’re passionate about in their community. Participants network with other leaders in high schools across Ontario, and by the end of one year, they launch an event or campaign to address their cause.

For the 2023-2024 year, thirteen grade 11 and grade 12 students participated as the seventh cohort of Peace Innovators, eager to address issues they saw in their communities and build solutions that create meaningful impact or inspire peace.

This past year, there was a variety of topics addressed by the cohort, all equally important and relevant in their local schools and communities. We’re highlighting a few of the participants and their projects as they align with Kindred’s focus themes:

Emma A.
The goal of “The Dignity Project” is to look at the stigma toward unhoused community members and addressing solutions to end homelessness in the greater Waterloo Region. Emma noted that the “stigma causes intentional and unintentional disrespect, negative values, and attitudes towards people experiencing houselessness that reflect on one's overall well being causing a lack of dignity.”

At the end of her year as a Peace Innovator, Emma modified her project to a Grab ‘N Go installation where unhoused people will be able to maintain their dignity while obtaining clothing items. At the time of this blog, specific details for her Grab ‘N Go installation are yet be determined.

Lisara De S. and Saria T.
Focusing their passion by looking inward, Lisara and Saria wanted to develop a greater understanding about mental health within immigrant and newcomer families, and children of immigrant parents. They, too, addressed stigmas associated with mental health and noted that culture plays a large role in how individuals, families, and diaspora communities address and handle mental health.

Lisara and Saria’s project will culminate in an event called Silencing Stigmas on May 25 at Waterloo Park. They partnered with Camino Wellbeing and Mental Health for an event that encourages people to reconnect with their friends and families, as well as guest speakers. You can learn more about their event by visiting their Instagram page!

Julia E.
In a form of self-reflection, Julia’s Peace Innovator project “Tomorrow’s Leaders Initiative,” looked at youth leadership and the challenges around encouraging youth to take initiative in their communities. She noted the root problem of how society reduces the importance of youth leadership, which will eventually lead to future generations lacking fundamental life skills.

Her solution was to create weekly in-class sessions and an extension program for inclined elementary school aged children to establish healthy habits of teamwork and leadership while helping them to develop necessary life skills. Her project ended in success with many of the participating children learning strategies and skills that will aid them outside of her program, and over 60% of participants said they will continue to get involved in their local communities or school.

Applications for the 2024-2025 cohort are still being accepted! Any interested students are welcome to apply or reach out to the TREE team with any questions.

Kate Pearce

Kate is passionate about supporting and enabling communities to connect, make an impact, and thrive through the development of strong, trusting partnerships. Through her work, Kate turns commitments into action and works to bring Kindred’s purpose to life.

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