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Louis Barnett

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Want to inspire young people to work for peace in their communities?

Initiative for Peace

Singapore
An initiative to train young people to become peace-builders, with the aim of facilitating peace conferences for youth from areas of conflict or post-conflict, ultimately inspiring them to become peace-builders in their own communities.
Introduction

What is Initiative for Peace?

Louis Barnett, Teacher, United World Colleges
“We want to inspire young people to realise they can make a difference. I think that's pretty powerful no matter what scale it's done on.”

Louis Barnett, Teacher, United World Colleges

United World Colleges (UWC) is a movement that aims to make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.

Since 2001, their Initiative for Peace campaign has empowered young people from conflict affected regions, including Kashmir, Timor Leste, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand and Sri Lanka, to become active agents of change through youth-led conferences.

UWC students are trained in peace-building theory and skills. The young trainees then plan and facilitate a week-long peace conference for youth from an area affected by conflict, tension or even domestic or gang related violence. They spend six months training to become peace-builders and facilitators and then five months planning the conferences, doing everything from sending applications out and selecting participants to planning the conference programme and finding guest speakers.

Staff take the position of coaches, teaching the students vital skills such as peace and conflict theory, project management, digital literacy, planning, communication, active listening, facilitation and teamwork. Empowered with this new knowledge and understanding, the facilitators run the conferences. This means every conference is run by youth, for youth.

Conferences are residential and young people take part in activities, learn, eat and share dormitories together in order to build real connections with people from many different backgrounds, all in the name of peace. Delegates are asked to bring items that represent their culture and they put on a cultural show during the conference. This gives students the opportunity to showcase their cultures and experience the cultures of others, leading to some powerful learning.

There is also a service day, where delegates take what they have learnt and do something active with it, such as planting trees. The week is finished with action planning, where the delegates discuss what it is they have learned at conference and what they plan to take away for the future.

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Innovation Overview
16 - 18
Age Group
2 000
Children/Users
7
Countries
2001
Established
Not-for-profit
Organisation
5 996
Views
Tips for implementation
Initiative for Peace needs at least 3 members of staff per conference (exactly how many will depend on the number of students involved). The timeframe for preparation involves 6 months of training and then student-led planning of the conference for a further 5 months. At UWC, the school pays for all the delegate costs and facilitators covers their own costs. Donors contribute to the costs of facilitators on a means-tested basis. It would be possible for students to fundraise in order to cover their costs.
Connect with innovator
Louis Barnett
HundrED Review
Innovativeness

Students learn peace-building skills with the intent to design, build and facilitate a conference with youth in conflict zones or areas.

Impact

Initiative for Peace has taught youth what a functioning, peaceful community looks like, how it is formed, and what sort of behaviour accelerates this process. Many students who have participated in this project have gone on to pursue careers in peace-building or run their own conferences in the future.

Scalability

Over the last 15 years 450 students at UWC have been involved in Initiative for Peace. This initiative, however, could be done on a large or small scale & could be delivered within your own country. For example, in the UK, young people could focus on the refugee crisis and train students to bring together refugees and local children in the area.

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Initiative for Peace at UWCSEA

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Steps

Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

01
Do no harm
This concept is the most important thing to consider when embarking on a programme like Initiative for Peace.
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02
Identify a need
Where is there conflict and how might young peace-builders be able to work with youth in that area in order to help bring about positive peace?
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03
Decide on the scale
The scale of the conference depends upon multiple factors such as funding, staff availability and the number of students.
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04
Plan the logistics
Educators should visit the intended location to ensure that the conference is feasible as part of the planning process.
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05
Create a theory of change
It is important to think about the intended learning outcomes for both the students running the conference and the delegates attending.
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06
Train students to become effective peace-builders
No matter the scale of the conference or intervention, in order to be effective peace-builders students will need training.
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