Category Archives: Peace Art Project

Peace Art 4 Syrian Refugees


 Promoting a Culture of Peace for Children Society provides small grants to support people who work with children in doing projects to promote peace education with students from pre-school to Grade 12.  This year there have not been a lot of requests for grants but one funded project has made a difference throughout the entire school community and in the lives of the Syrian Refugees who it has touched.  It is called #WelcomeSyrianRefugees.  It started as a peace art project and has grown to incorporate many literacy outcomes.  Check out the Inquire2Empower blog for the full story.



J-DEF Peace Project in Chicago


a post by Sandy Murray

image imageStayed in the remarkable Pilsen neighbourhood in Chicago’s Lower West Side. The people of Pilsen have transformed their community with huge and dynamic mural installations. This J-DEF Peace Project 3-part mosaic mural was created by Chicago teens to honour Jeff Moldonado Jr., an innocent victim of gang violence. Jeff, also known as hip hop artist J-Def, tragically lost his life at 19 years of age. He sought to bring peace to his neighbourhood through his music. Check out the J-Def Peace Project website at  and The J-DEF Peace Project Facebook page. A very powerful way to inspire us (children and adults alike) to nurture peace in our neighbourhoods!


Bee A Friend


Feeling a little lonely or left out or overwhelmed on the playground.  “The Bee A Friend” bench was Julie Petrynko’s answer to this problem sometimes facing students at, during or after school hours.  She is a school counselor at several schools, Tecumseh being one of them.  Much of her time is spend engaging students in problem solving and social responsibility instruction.  One group of students worked with the school counsellor to learn about making and keeping friends.  They decided they could teach their newly learned skills best if  they had a meeting place where kids could come to find a friend or find something to do.  They talked to the vice principal about a spot and they decided that the old benches by the playground in the process of being removed, needed a facelift and would be a good spot.  Lucky for them, the grounds people decided the benches needed to be replaced when the playground was taken down.  Students decided on the theme and put in a proposal to Promoting a Culture of Peace for Children to get funding for the project.  They were successful. When the weather turned sunny and the playground building area was fenced off, it became the perfect time to paint.

The grand opening of the “Bee a Friend” bench was at the same time as the community build playground opening.   Grade 7 students and supervision aides introduced it to the Kindergarten students at recess.  Then it was opened up to everyone at lunch time.  It was a busy place.   Bubbles and sidewalk chalk were very popular.  The Telus soccer balls donated by girls’ soccer coach, Carrie Serwetnyk, and the happy face frisbees were also very popular on opening day.

Students at Tecumseh are lucky because they now have a new playground and fun activities to do.  They don’t think anyone will have trouble finding someone to play with NOW!  But if they do, they have somewhere to come to and someone to reach out with a smile and an idea.

Big Puppets Speak out for Justice


Kate McCabe and Nancy Greenall were the successful recipients of a Culture of Peace 4 Kids grant. Please read their blog post which details their project. IMG_3958

December 10th is the next date to apply for a Culture of Peace for Kids Grant.  Go to the Acts of Transformation:  From War Toys To Peace Art Site for details.

A group of Self-Design students met for a total of 3 hours per week for 11 weeks to study Justice and participate in Big Puppet making classes. Below is a write up of some of the major concepts that were covered during that time.

We started off with a deep conversation to come up with a definition of what justice is. Comments around ethics, point of view, different belief systems, definition of right and wrong, societal influences, lack of communication… were part of the discussion. They each wrote out different scenarios, events, issues etc. that they felt either represented justice or injustice. We looked at the Jean ValJean dilemma and discussed that scenario – the law and flexibility, learning a lesson, rehabilitation, effects of time, compassion, fairness, same or different laws for rich and poor… It was great, and difficult, for them to see that things were not always black and white and that there were many complications and factors in determining justice.

Learners did a web quest to research different kinds of governments and discussed the pros and cons of each before identifying specific countries that were examples of each. After generating a list of justice issues students had a debate. This led to conversations about conflict resolution strategies and reflective listening skills.

When it was Martin Luther King Jr. Day we discussed who he was. Several of the learners heard Dr. King’s son speak at We Day the previous year. We listened to Dr. King giving his famous “I have a dream…” speech. This prompted discussions on racism. We read another book called “Sit-in”. This book told the story of the four black college students who started the sit-ins at Woolworth’s department store and how this action was loving resistance that brought about significant change as taught by Dr. King. From there we looked at the differences between racism, discrimination and bullying and they began a Venn diagram identifying those actions. We also looked at samples of micro aggressions and what they can look like as well as how they could deal with it when they witnessed it.


We also did a survey to see which social justice issues they wanted to pursue and it was decided that we would spend about two weeks on each of the following –racism, poverty, child labour, and environmental issues rather than deal with one or two in greater depth.

Interactive and cooperative games were included along the way to reinforce various issues and provide real life examples of the concepts covered.

Learners also selected a community issue that they felt needed attention and then made a plan to take action. One group of students collected food and raised money to buy coats for a nearby food bank and shelter. The other group made and sold cookies and popcorn to buy toys and supplies for a local animal shelter.

While the Justice classes were going on the children were beginning to make their puppets. It was a very time consuming project. They broke into groups and decided on an issue for their play. Developing their scripts gave them opportunities to use their conflict resolution skills and reflective listening. Once the puppets and scripts were completed they continued practicing until the performance day. On the last day of class parents, siblings and guests were invited to come and watch as the groups performed their skits and spoke about their chosen justice issue. It was a great culminating event!


Peace Park


Peace Park in Whistler, B.C. is a beautiful showcase for student art focused on creating a world filled with beauty and peace.  It is located on the walk from the Lower Village towards the Upper Village, just before the covered bridge.  Student created tiles have been painted and mounted in the little park with seating areas overlooking the river, mountains and trees.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if all communities had beautiful spaces like this to focus their attention creating peaceful contexts.


Bee A Friend Project



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Julie Petrynko, the counsellor at Tecumseh Elementary School, started the Bee a Friend Project with a group of grade 5-7 students.

The problem:  Kids who don’t have anyone to play with at recess or lunch.  They don’t have the skills or perhaps the confidence to join in play with other students.

The questions:  How can we make recess and lunch fun for everyone?   How can we help kids to learn how to make and keep friends?  How can we “show the ENCOURAGE” in the Tecumseh Code of Conduct?

(Tecumseh Code of Conduct => RISE => Respect / Improve/ Safe/ Encourage)

The Plan:

1. With Ms. Petrynko’s guidance, students chose an old bench by the playground to make the site for the “Bee A Friend Bench“.  The idea is for kids to meet at the bench if they want to find a friend to play with or if they need an idea of what to do.

2.  The team of students along with the vice principal enlisted volunteers at recess and lunch to sand the bench and get it ready to paint.  This has been a popular activity.

3.  When school is back in session, the students plan to paint the bench yellow with black accents.  Then they are going to paint bees on to the bench so everyone knows where to go to find a friend or an idea for an activity.

4.  They are hoping to have a celebration to introduce the bench and it’s purpose to the rest of the students at the school.

We’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

This is another idea that has received funding from The Promoting A Culture of Peace for Children Society.  See the War Toys to Peace Art site for how to apply for a grant.

Peaceful Heart & Wounded Heart Project


Funding is available for projects to involve children in expressing their thoughts about peace in artistic ways. See The War Toys To Peace Art website.   This project was submitted and written up by Mr. James Chamberlain, VP at McBride Annex in Vancouver, B.C.


Peaceful Hearts &  Wounded Hearts Project

Hearts were designed by our Grade 2 & 3 students to depict peaceful images for Aboriginal people and juxtapose this with hurtful imagery from their residential school history and experiences. Mr. Chamberlain read the students a number of picture books about the negative impacts of residential schools upon Aboriginal people. We discussed the racist laws imposed by the Canadian government which led to forcing Aboriginal families to give up their children to Indian Agents or face jail time. Students were already familiar with laws which banned potlatches and required Aboriginal people to give up their traditional lands to be housed upon reserves.

We linked our learning about the history of residential schools with previous lessons about segregation of black people in Canada and the United States. We had been discussing issues of segregated schools, restaurants, buses, the Civil Rights Movement and the Chinese Head Tax in prior lessons. As part of the Wounded Heart & Peaceful Heart project, we discussed and recorded overt and covert forms of racism that were historically perpetuated against people of colour as well.

Finally, through classroom discussion we linked overt and covert forms of racism, sexism and homophobia together.
These teachings are part of our multi-year focus on Aboriginal Education across the district. This project is just one example of a much larger focus within our school. One of our school goals is to teach students at all grade levels about the positive contributions of Aboriginal history, culture and traditions to our society. We believe that all students benefit from learning about Aboriginal Education.