The International Day of Peace takes place on 21 September, a globally shared date committed to peace above all differences.
Amongst our #epluspeople, many have run Erasmus+ projects that have a strong focus on peace education and encouraging others to build stronger communities.
These projects bring people together from different backgrounds, countries and cultures. Let’s look at those who are breaking down barriers and helping to build a better world.
Enhancing pupils' cultural awareness
Lockerbie Primary School in Scotland helps pupils to gain a new perspective on the world through a range of projects which focus on International Day of Peace. The school has a long-standing link with a school in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and lately they have focused on whole-school joint curricular projects.
Headteacher Karen Carter explains: “Every year [pupils] exchange work on the theme of peace with a different partner school ... We have also enhanced pupils’ understanding of life in Palestine through the Culture in a Box project.
“This eTwinning initiative asks pupils to choose 10 items they think best represent their culture and explain why. These items then go into a shoebox, which is exchanged with boxes from schools in other countries.”
“Having people from other cultures who have grown up with different ideas about peace, violence and conflict adds so much to the debate over how we go forward.”
These projects are giving the pupils of Lockerbie an international outlook as well as new skills and confidence. The school has been recognised for its international work and holds the British Council International School Award.
Developing peace education
This year’s International Day of Peace theme draws attention to the importance of combating climate change to protect and promote peace around the world. Climate change causes clear threats to international peace and security; with natural disasters displacing three times as many people as conflicts.
Young people in particular are stepping up to the challenge - close to half a million youth globally have taken action on climate change in their homes, schools and communities. Peace education plays a vital role in this.
For example, the ASHA centre, in Gloucestershire, offers training to young people focused on protecting the earth, building harmonious communities and more.
Through an Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership project, the centre is working with fellow organisations across Europe to better understand, reflect and implement peace practices in youth work.
Youth worker Alex Scott said: “Having people from other cultures who have grown up with different ideas about peace, violence and conflict adds so much to the debate over how we go forward.”
Learning from conflict
Alongside peace education, Erasmus+ also encourages communities to learn from conflict, whether abroad or much closer to home.
On an estate built to house those displaced from Belfast during the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, Kilcooley Women’s Centre is striving to build a resilient, supportive community through mentoring, thanks to their Erasmus+ Adult Education funding.
Gina Murray lost her 13-year-old daughter Leanne in the Shankhill Road bombing in 1993, which had a huge impact on her mental health; she was unable to work and struggled with daily life. Then Gina was introduced to the centre and mentoring.
"Having a mentor has changed my life, and when I had the opportunity via the Erasmus+ project to train to become a mentor myself, I was very keen to become involved,” she said.
Her Erasmus+ experience has inspired her to continue her learning journey and she has now completed Level 1 in Mentoring.
Through dialogue, education and collaboration, Erasmus+ projects and people are opening minds and helping to build a safer world.