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Kids working for peace

For these kids, peace is about friendship, sharing, creativity, and much more.

By Yvonne Pesquera / April 29, 2008

Peacemakers: Kids for Peace member Hana Craft and her mom, JillMcManigal, who cofounded the group, smile at a Steven Tyler concert forpeace.

Courtesy of Kids for Peace

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Carlsbad, Calif.

Hana Craft likes to sing, play the piano, and play sports at school. But at just 9 years old, she's also focused on making the world better. "Peace is important to me because when I grow up, I want my kids to live in a safe and kind world," she says.

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Hana is an original member of Kids for Peace, an organization cofounded by her mom, Jill McManigal, and a local teen who's passionate about promoting peace. Kids in the group work to create a culture of peace, both locally and globally.

"Hana inspired me to start Kids for Peace. We were reflecting on the state of our world and all the violence and wanted to be part of the solution," says Ms. McManigal.

What peace means to kids

Several groups use the popular name, "Kids for Peace," but the chapters of this organization follow a mission of performing community service, participating in civic action, and creating art to contribute to a peaceful society at home and abroad.

Kids for Peace developed a peace pledge with six ways kids can create peace on their own. To read it, visit www.kidsforpeaceusa.org. The group also created a book of the children's drawings and statements about peace. It's called "Peace Through Our Eyes."

The original Kids for Peace began in Carlsbad, Calif., in 2006. Since then, the group has grown to 17 chapters across the United States.

One 14-year-old girl in Escondido, Calif., was motivated to start a chapter after her father and cousin were sent to prison for violence. She wanted to break the cycle of violence in her family and become a leader for peace.

Other young members are leading the way toward peace, too. "Everything we do comes from the children," says Ms. McManigal. "They say, 'This is what we want to do to create peace.' It's not adults directing it."

Kids for Peace also has a chapter in Australia and will soon have one in Greece. In all, there are about 400 members worldwide.

Global friendship

Kids for Peace believes that learning about different cultures is an important part of building peace. "Because once you know [people] on the other side of the world, they are your friend[s] and you won't hurt them," says Ms. McManigal.

The chapters hold sessions to introduce children to other cultures. One time, Peace Corps volunteers attended a Kids for Peace meeting to talk about living abroad. Another time, a family visiting San Diego from Kenya in East Africa was invited to speak.

Kids for Peace also likes to makes friends with children in other countries by sending them "Peace-Packs." These are hand-painted knapsacks filled with school supplies, toiletries, a toy, and a personal note of friendship.

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