SCHOOL pupils across Rugby are being invited to get creative as part of a Rotary Club campaign to promote peace and mental wellbeing among young people.
The Peace Pole competition forms part of a drive by Heart of England Rotary Clubs, to tackle the underlying causes of conflict, including poverty, discrimination, lack of access to education, and unequal distribution of resources.
It is being widened out following the success of a recent project at Westgate Primary School in Warwick before Christmas.
The Club is also working with Newburgh and Aylesford Primary Schools as well as Warwick Town Council which plans to introduce a Wooden Peace Pole into the town’s Pageant Gardens, incorporating languages from its twin towns in France, Germany and Italy.
Schools are being invited to submit their design for a Peace Garden and the winning entry will be presented with their own bespoke Peace Pole, donated by the Heart of England Rotary Clubs.
With an estimated 250,000 across the globe, Peace Poles are internationally-recognised as the most prominent symbol, monument and silent visual for peace as well as representing a celebration of Peace and Collaboration between different countries too.
Warwick Rotarian and Peace Project Co-ordinator, Margaret Morley, said: “As an organisation Rotary is totally committed to working with schools in any way they feel necessary to support their Peace Education Curriculum and encourage a culture of peace, which is so important in today’s society.
“Promoting peace is a Rotary area of focus as well as part of the school curriculum. It’s not just about planting a peace pole it’s about working with schools to encourage young people to think about what peace means.”
Margaret added: “Peace Poles are so important as they take children out of the classroom, they provide areas of tranquillity and reflection, so important with mental health issues. They also encourage an interest in the environment planting/growing.
“The Peace Pole is a constant reminder that we are working together to create a caring and compassionate society.
“Children love them, ceremonies can be planned around them to encourage a culture of peace within the school.”
Headteacher at Westgate Primary School, Matthew Watson, said: “This project goes to illustrate how well different community groups in Warwick support us and provide opportunities for the children which may not otherwise be available to them.
“The raised bed that now houses the Peace Pole was unearthed and now provides a slightly separated area for contemplation. This will eventually have peaceful planting (lavenders etc) around it and will hopefully provide a focus for Remembrance Day and other fixed points in the year when the curriculum provides links to peace.
“The focus on mental wellbeing and finding solutions where they could be alone and peaceful has been reassuring in these difficult times.”
Each year the Rotary also awards more than 100 fully funded Peace Fellowships training for dedicated leaders around the world. Since the program began in 2002, the Rotary Peace Centres have trained more than 1,400 fellows across 115 countries, many of which now serve as leaders in governments, the military, education, law enforcement and international organisations like the United Nations.
Margaret added: “As a humanitarian organisation, peace is a cornerstone of our mission. We believe when people work to create peace in their communities, that change can have a global effect.
Schools interested in finding out more about the competition or the Peace Project are invited to contact Margaret Morley at: firstname.lastname@example.org.