Little Friends For Peace will be marching to end gun violence- AND working as we have for 37 years to replace the guns with skills for peace. Meet us at: Archives Metro Stop, 11 am, Saturday March 24.
With daily practice in the loving tools and practices of nonviolence, LFFP equips people to build a culture of peace: to create healthy relationships in our schools, communities, and homes.
We need to stop and heal from the trauma, from the fear and the anger that make people feel the need for guns.
We need to rewire our brains to respond, not in anxiety and paranoia, but in trust and creativity. We can build the beloved community of healthy minds and bodies with loving hearts.
Each day we can start with the Wellness Wheel to ground ourselves, then invite our families, colleagues, and students to share what's going on inside that delights and what demands effort and courage today.
We can share our gifts and talents. We can trust in our skills to resolve conflicts and restore our relationships with compassion and empathy.
LFFP offers the care and skills to let go of our fears and to build caring communities where we all can share, shine, and win.
Please join us and dance with us in a culture of peace!
My name is Brian McLauchlin and I am at LFFP as an intern through Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA. Currently I am earning an MA in Conflict Transformation, but my focus is on trauma and healing. While at LFFP, I want to lead our organization through a process for becoming “trauma-informed.” What “trauma-informed” means is that we, as a staff, become more aware of the influence of trauma in the lives of the children and adults with whom we work. Such knowledge helps us in the tools we use to build skills for peace. More importantly, such tools should be geared toward healing, healing of self and others.
One peace skill we can use toward healing, for example, is the use of movement. Sometimes at McKenna Center, we have the men stand up and do some simple exercises. At the after-school program or in Summer Peace Camp, we have the children do exercises. Although such activities may seem “simple,” such techniques helps people connect with their bodies. Research has shown that trauma can disconnect a person from his or her body, even to the point that people can lose bodily sensations. Under such circumstances, people can operate in their head, but are not able to function well within the body. Exercises, such as yoga or other bodily movements, can help one to connect with the body so that there is a more fluid movement between mind, body, and spirit. This connection helps to promote healing in our clients. While at LFFP, I hope to highlight such techniques.
My name is Vyonne Akoth. I am the founder of a local nonprofit organization in Kenya known as Impart Change, as well as a Community Solutions Program (CSP) 2017 Fellow. Community Solutions is a professional development program implemented by the International Research and Exchange Board (IREX) and supported by the US Department of State. I have a bachelor’s degree in peace, security, and conflict resolution. A few weeks ago I was delighted to join fellow CSP fellows for a workshop orientation, having being selected among 93 successful applicants out of more than 2500 applications. My immersion into Little Friends for Peace (LFFP), my host organization, began on an exciting and high note: summer Peace Camps!
Never have I had so much fun. The summer Peace Camps provided an opportunity for me to learn about LFFP and see how the lives of children are being impacted and transformed positively from a very young age. What made this so exciting is that it was done on the basis of learning while having fun for both the campers as well as the counsellors, me included. The Peace Camps impacted me on a personal level, seeing how campers are being empowered organically to be peace champions at heart, and carry that peace to their surroundings: their families, friends, neighbours and communities at large. I could see the campers learning how to love and respect each other irrespective of their age, race, religion, and cultural differences.
Fun peace tools were used. They included art, games, talent shows, storytelling, and recess time where campers as well as counsellors had the opportunity to harness their peacebuilding skills. I was really inspired seeing how at a very young age, campers knew how to solve conflicts among themselves using peaceful communication messages that focused on STOP, THINK and ACT. Many thanks to MJ for the excellent work she has done developing these messages over the years! What stood out for me was the phrase, ‘Stop, we can work it out.’ This particular phrase was used by younger campers to address little conflicts among themselves. I was happy to be in a position to see its effectiveness.
As an adult, this was a learning curve for me. Whereas I have always had the knowledge of non-violent communication, LFFP has taught me a new kind of peaceful non-violent communication which I have now adopted in my life. This peaceful non-violent communication has taught me how to work on my communication from a personal level to an interpersonal and intergroup level. I have noticed that this has happened to me unconsciously as a result of working with the campers. The whole world needs peaceful non-violent communication!
My journey with LFFP has just begun. I can’t wait to see where the next months will lead, being part of a visionary organization that has the potential to impact the whole world, using humane, exciting, and interesting peace tools for a much needed change both close to home and globally.
Our peace is broken with the sudden loss of Zach, our peace is coming from his light, our Holy one and our LFFP community. Zach- peace camper, JCIT, CIT, Counselor and Lead Counselor of Little Friends For Peace.
In the journey towards peace, reflection sits at the heart of each person who decides to take the leap into such a practice. The practice of peace itself is a conscious effort, and seeing a group of men, who in society’s viewpoint have nothing, come together on the journey towards peace was not only inspiring but even more so humbling.
We often tell ourselves not to take things for granted, and to always realize one’s own privilege in the world we live in no matter our circumstances. Sitting as a black, college-educated female, I knew my privilege, but was also aware of what burdens were predisposed against me because of how I am labeled in the world. Because of this consistent awareness to both privilege and hardship, I was able to reach the deep level with these men who consciously placed themselves in the peace circle that day.
They spoke on the systems they felt were against them, leaping back into history with reflection upon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the reasoning behind his undoubtedly heroic downfall. We discussed not only the progressive impact he made on what we as an American culture have progressed to today, but also the inquisitive question, did Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. die from his own ignorance? With varying opinions in the group, we were able to move the conversation into the ultimate question of how do we react to things, and how our reactions can be changed to reflect and resolve in a more peaceful manner. Dr. King chose a peaceful and consistent protest to display to the country the hideous mistreating of black people in America. How one progresses to that took center stage.
One man suggested that you could only live for yourself, and to find peace within starts with the desire to better yourself first. Others reflected on the idea that you cannot progress on your own with either looking to others for guidance, or having a solid support system around you. Even more compelling was the discussion of if believing in a higher power constitutes as still living for yourself or if you are still “living for someone or something else.” Such deep, philosophical ideas were discussed that early Thursday morning, creating a much more in-depth and reflective state in the Father McKenna Center than any I was expecting that morning.
The overall idea of progress through one’s own means left a steady impact on me the rest of that day, causing me to look at how I am progressing towards my utmost peaceful life, and what that life constitutes for me. I have always known I am advocate for “peace on earth,” but where did that desire put me as an overall entity of myself? That morning, the men at our peace circle pushed me to think about peace from a standpoint of the less than privileged, and why to them progress was more than what the American Dream entails. As a whole, I left the Father McKenna Center enlightened, thoughtful, and overall more peaceful knowing that those who seemingly have nothing continue to be able minded and steadfast in themselves and their dreams towards peace in whatever capacity that means for them beyond the walls of adversity.