Eric understood that violence is much more than fighting, guns and gangs. It is entangled in deep-seated societal issues such as racism and homophobia. He decided that the best way to prevent violence was to teach peace—in the classroom, the hallways, the lunchroom, the schoolyard, at home and in the neighborhood. Peace starts with kindness, understanding and respect. Eric’s goal is for children and adults to work together to create a culture of peace in and beyond their school. When children enlist the help of the adults in their lives to learn, practice and promote peacemaking, everyone gains a safer, more supportive community in which to live.
Eric’s vision is for children to be able to create and nurture a culture of caring, respect and cooperation, and to leave school prepared to be engaged community members. As these children mature, Eric believes they will carry peacemaking values with them, replacing violence with peace and intolerance with inclusion. When peacemaking is part of the fabric of every child’s education, Eric believes children in every community will have the skills to resolve conflicts, work across differences, and build a world worthy of their children.
Over the past two years, we have been scaling our work to build a youth peacemaking movement. We launched the Peace First Digital Activity Center in October 2012, an online platform that presents our peacemaking curriculum cost-free for educators and parents. Our content has been downloaded in all 50 states and over 140 countries. We also launched a national engagement campaign called The Peace First Prize in January, 2013. Envisioned as a “Nobel Peace Prize” for young people leading social change, we recently announced 10 winners (ages 8-22) to receive a two-year, $50,000 fellowship. The second Prize launches in January, 2014.