Children's Peace Committee helps educate peers about world issues
Boston — * ''I would certainly try to stop a war and would like to help that goal, and do this in Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the rest of Europe,'' wrote Annemarie de Vreese, a teen-ager from Holland.
* ''Here there are lots of poor people and I want to help them,'' wrote a 10 -year-old from Cuernavaca, Mexico.
* ''I think that what you are doing is great and 'we' must keep it going,'' wrote a young man from Sterling Heights, Mich. ''Peace is something I'm serious about. As a teenager I'm not about to sit around doing nothing. . . . Maybe we can work together to help the problems in the world.''
These three messages were among an estimated 2,500 letters sent last year to the Children's Peace Committee (CPC) - an organization in New York City run solely by children to promote world peace. When children and adults caught wind of the valiant work being done by 14-year-old CPC president and founder Monique Grodski and her 250-member organization, inquiries, praise, and requests to join poured in.
The penmanship may not always be legible, but the message is clear: Children are concerned about world problems and want to help solve them. And they're taking action to do so.
Over the past year, CPC branches have sprung up around the world - in Nigeria , Holland, Mexico, Italy. Monique estimates that 10 chapters have opened overseas, and 20 to 30 have been formed in the United States. Like the New York CPC, these branches promote world peace in various ways - through rallies, world-hunger fundraisers, and community outreach.
This surge of interest indicates that an even larger grass-roots children's movement may be gaining momentum, and it indicates that children are seeking ways to voice their feelings about world issues.
Take, for instance, the Children's Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in Plainfield, Vt. Led by 17-year-old Hannah Rabin, this two-year-old organization has abolished its main central committee to turn the movement over to an estimated 50 branches formed over the past year.
As stated in a leaflet, the purpose of the organization is to ''educate kids about the nuclear threat,'' and to ''have their opinions heard.''
The most recent addition to this blossoming children's movement emerged last spring - Children As Teachers of Peace in San Francisco. Over the past year, the organization compiled thousands of children's letters and drawings of what peace means to give to world leaders. Some of these letters and drawings were made into a book, ''Children As Teachers of Peace'' (Millbrae, Calif.: Celestial Arts , $7.95).
A common thread of agreement runs through all these groups - that exposure to world problems at a young age will lead to greater concern in adult years.
Monique, the CPC founder and leader, explains it this way: ''If children start at an early age, they'll carry this feeling with them - of wanting to make this world a better place to live in. Maybe when they grow up they'll be able to do something about it.''
Fourteen-year-old Robert Gregson agrees. He sees his involvement in the Seattle, Wash., branch of the CPC as a precursor to more distant plans of helping build a better world for future generations.
''For me personally,'' Robert says, ''I'm very interested in going into the Foreign Service.'' The CPC encourges him to think about other countries and cultures. In particular, he says he is interested in ''how Russian children feel about how the world is being run right now and what our future is.''
When discussing branch membership in the CPC, Monique emphasizes the importance of adhering to certain rules of conduct when ''promoting world peace.'' She says there was some difficulty when a branch in Washington, D.C., chained committee members to a tree to accentuate their point and gain public attention.
This was inappropriate behavior for a CPC, Monique says, because ''we usually don't get that politically involved. That's completely the opposite of what we're trying to prove.''
Monique promptly told the branch to disband and re-form under new officers. Branch committee rallies, she says, should try to model themselves after the New York CPC, where ''we have a peaceful atmosphere and tell people about peace, love, and brotherhood.''
What has allowed the CPC to flourish over the past four years? ''We can all talk to each other, and we're like brothers and sisters,'' Monique says. ''I think that's why we survived that long.''