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Six Billion Paths to Peace: A Birthday Celebration!

January 19th, 2011
Cake, balloons, music and fun- members of Blake’s Upper School Community Service Board didn’t miss a thing when they hosted a birthday party for their senior citizen friends as part of the Friendly Visiting Program.

Through Little Brothers: Friends of the Elderly, Blake’s Upper School students serve those who are sixty and older, and would otherwise not have support in their immediate area. Perhaps the most important aspect of their service includes their Friendly Visiting Program, whereby a student volunteer is matched with an elderly friend.

The 25 birthday honorees- whose average age was 80- and their volunteer drivers arrived on the Blake’s Northrop campus and were greeted by cheerful Upper School students, who helped dish up lunch for their guests. As students and guests conversed, they were entertained by the musical stylings of The Sunshine Crew, a Blake-student music group. The guests sang along to old favorites such as “You Are My Sunshine” and “Que Sera, Sera” and learned some new tunes as well.

The highlight of the event was the student presentations on Six Billion Paths to Peace. We are all connected; our actions ripple out into the world. What is your intention for peace/what is your path?” As part of the presentations intergenerational participants discussed the possibilities in realizing their Paths to Peace and the impact of making a positive difference.

Students then encouraged everyone to write down their personal Path to Peace and share their thoughts with others at their tables. Following the thoughtful discussion everyone enjoyed a piece of birthday cake while The Sunshine Crew serenaded the guests with a round of “Happy Birthday.”

After the event, students reflected, how their awkwardness diminished around the elders as a result of their interactions. Through their shared experiences students learned how to connect with the senior citizens and have more empathy. Several students expressed their newly identified path to peace- “to continue my connection with my new elder friends.” The experience transformed students and now they are writing pen-pal letters and planning an evening dinner dance with their elder friends.

To learn more about the Six Billion Paths to Peace Initiative, please visit:

http://www.sef.org/projects/six-billion-paths-to-peace/

To learn more about service learning at The Blake School

http://www.blakeschool.org/programs-services/Service-Learning/index.aspx

By Nan Peterson
Hopkins, Minesota