Ask a stranger what the basic needs are for survival and they’ll rhyme them off:
Food, Clothing, Shelter.
Give a child those three basic things and success is guaranteed.
It’s exactly right… except not really.
What about love? What about peace?
I didn’t choose the project that I’m representing as a Parent Ambassador for Right to Play Canada. I wasn’t asked if there was a facet or topic I’d like to align myself with.
But I can say without hesitation that my project chose me.
“We build Peace,” is more than a catchy phrase for me.
We traveled extensively as a family. We went into countries where the effects of war have far outlasted their time with generational implications that touch many who never had a chance to say how they felt about the situation that led them here.
For many of us here in Canada, we may never truly know the cost that war can have when it happens on your own soil or in your own home. Our stories are the ones that live on the backs of veterans, come home in the eyes of soldiers or are told through the sacrifices of their families.
In Rwanda, the children have lived it. At most they are only a generation removed.
Their Remembrance Day is everyday. Their soldiers are their fathers, mothers, uncles and brothers.
Their daily existence is formed on eggshells. Any given moment is cased in the story of a wartorn recent past that pitted father against father, child against child.
And somehow in that life they must find the nutrients they need for survival.
Food? Clothing? Shelter?
In a recent survey* Canadian parents were asked the following:
“Thinking about children in other countries around the world, on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is not at all important and 10 is extremely important, how important do you think it is that they have the following things: peace, education, equality, healthcare.”
Peace was overwhelmingly noted as the top priority with an average score of 9.5.
Right To Play Canada believes it is a priority too.
Recognizing that what we teach our children lives forever, they’ve developed games and team building exercises that children and adults alike can learn from. Games like the human knot where kids are asked to first join one hand and then use their second hand to join with someone else. The resulting tangled mess always results in giggles and even those who at first resist are eventually too intrigued by the fun they’re missing to stay out for long.
They look past their differences to play.
And because you can’t hold the hand of an enemy and giggle with them for long before they become your friend, they begin on this tiny level to reconsider what lies in the way of peace.
And it’s not just the kids.
Right To Play trains local adults to be leaders in their communities. And often this means that they too must learn and play the games that require them to interact with neighbouring tribes that may have at one time been on “the other side” during the genocide. Time and time again they too have learned to find peace.
So much has been done by this organization among so many.
I’m hoping you’ll help me do more.
I am proud to be one of the six parent ambassadors working on the Level The Field program for Right To Play Canada. Please vote for “We Build Peace” by clicking this link, liking their Facebook page and scrolling down to find the project I share with Olympian Clara Hughes. The ambassador with the most votes will continue to work with Right To Play in the Spring, observing their work on the ground as they carry out their projects. And by signing up to receive the Right To Play newsletter you can stay informed about opportunities where you can help - including a chance to travel with the winning project to Africa. I’d be honoured to have the chance to share this incredible privilege with you.
*The survey was conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of Right To Play Sept. 17 – 24