By Jack Gilroy, World BEYOND War, September 25, 2023
Veterans for Peace of Binghamton, NY, held the only Children’s Peace Fair in the area and perhaps the world on International Peace Day. Veterans for Peace with help from Peace Action, created Childrenspeacefair.org
On September 21, 2023, the dream of a Children’s Peace Fair became real for the Maine-Endwell school district in upstate New York. Here,200 students came together to celebrate peace and were welcomed by the black and white Veterans for Peace flag flying and our Children’s Peace Banner which pictures children playing under the caption: There Is No Joy In Nuclear Weapons.
Hilary Rozek, the key organizer, and Jim Tokos, both fifth-grade teachers in Maine Endwell Schools, made the day work with Veterans for Peace and talented community members.
Students were able to participate in many peace-themed activities. Ten-year-old kids were joyous participating in magic tricks with magician David Black. Master Magician Black used the Golden Rule as a fun way to teach caring for one another and stayed after the show to teach small groups magic tricks. Most kids scattered to one of the eighteen fun stations in an outdoor rural setting of grass and trees, and parrots with Jennifer the Bird Lady in a pagoda.
Some kids rushed to learn how to drum on five-gallon pails in a twenty-person circle on a tennis court setting. Other kids painted peace rocks or tried on kimonos (helped by former United Nations diplomat, Helena Garan). They learned how to fold paper into origami cranes and listened beneath huge oak trees to bird songs by flutist Ann Austin. Others learned how to do chime ringing to the tune of Happy Birthday, coded with ozobots, or learned how to write one’s name in Arabic, Russian, or Chinese.
Kids loved having their pictures taken and edited with Photoshop to make a peace symbol backdrop. Other activities included sidewalk chalk drawings with peace images, making bridges of peace with Popsicle sticks, Tasting honey from a beekeeper’s honeycombs, learning about the life of trees from an arborist, and simply relaxing under a shagbark hickory tree doing meditative Yoga with Mrs. DeLuca.
At the end of the day, Jim Tokos closed the fair by giving a quick lesson on solar energy and then led over 200 children on a silent Peace walk around the solar farm contiguous to the elementary school. He told the kids that the school district supplies all its own electricity for a large high school, middle school, and two elementary schools through energy produced by the solar farm. He emphasized the savings of money for the school district was secondary to saving our mother earth by reducing fossil fuel burning,
The ten-year-olds after a minute of silence lined up and were asked to walk with another student, not from their own school. In just another year, the suburban kids from Endwell and rural kids from Maine, NY, will come together in a common Middle School setting in Endwell. Country and suburban cousins now meeting for the first time at the Peace Fair to learn and grow with each other.
Something similar can happen around the US and from Albania to Zimbabwe. Peace happens when people learn about each other’s lives and come together around positive themes.
The event ended with the planting of a tree of hope for peace, the tree that survived Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Ginko.