21 September is Peace One Day, a U.N. day of ceasefire and non-violence around the world. A day to bring peace into your classroom!
The United Nations voted unanimously in 2001 to declare 21 September a day for peace. Unfortunately, that decision was taken days before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But that didn't deter Jeremy Giller, the British actor and filmmaker who had worked for three years to get the project to work. He continued to publicise the day and work with opinion formers like the Dalai Lama and Kofi Annan, then UN Secretary General.
Slowly, each year, more people participated. Until 2008, when there was a one-day ceasefire in Afghanistan which allowed medical staff to vaccinate 1.6 million children against polio. Since then, the day has gone from strength to strength. In 2014 it launched a three-year peace talks project in the Great Lakes region of Africa (Kenya, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda).
But just as important to Peace One Day (POD) are individual initiatives and schools or groups coming together to do something fun for peace, such as playing football or making music. In 2014, 10 million people said they behaved more peacefully on 21 September. And in particular, POD encourages teachers to teach about peace in their classrooms.
Why 21 September?
Jeremy Giller explains, "I wanted it to be the 21st of September because it was my granddad's favourite number. He was a prisoner of war. He saw the bomb go off at Nagasaki. It poisoned his blood. He died when I was 11. So he was like my hero. And the reason why 21 was the number is 700 men left, 23 came back, two died on the boat and 21 hit the ground. And that's why we wanted it to be the 21st of September as the date of peace."
For ideas for making Peace One Day in your classroom, see the Webpicks below.