September 11 to 21 are days known as the “11 Days of Global Unity” or “Peace Week at Casady School.” Casady School is a K-12 private school in the heart of Oklahoma City and Ms. Carmen Clay, Rainbolt Family Service-Learning Chair at Casady, is a long-time friend of Shinnyo-en Foundation. These days call for a shift from “I” to “WE.” Daily themes provide paths to social change and Peace One Day. The Casady YAC (Youth Active in the Community) began Peace Week 2017 installing the World Peace Village in campus buildings to observe Unity Day on September 11. Six main religions featured their most important icons, words for peace, and their definition of the Golden Rule. Cyclones also participated in the annual OCC Interfaith Youth Tour.
“Casady students look forward to Peace Week activities all year. A five year tradition, students have been able to grow along with it. Each student is able to find their niche in Peace Week and teach their beliefs to others in a unique way while expressing themselves. As Casady students, the more we understand each other, the more harmoniously we will work together.” –Anna Buckley ’19, YAC Secretary.
During Peace Week 2017, YAC members hosted chapel speakers, and organized and encouraged participation in service experiences connected to the themes of each day. Some of these themes include Words of Appreciation to Those who Serve, Pinwheel Assembly, for Girl Scouts and PD, Walk-4-Water, screening the documentaries “The Day After Peace” and “Happy”, as well as a mentoring service experience at Boys and Girls Club. YAC also participated with Oklahoma Centennial High School on Unity Day (9/11), Economic Justice Day (9/14), and Peace Day (9/21).
Casady Cyclones from all Divisions (Lower, Upper and Middle) created reflective “pieces of peace art” such as pinwheels, hearts with peace sentiments, and peace sneakers with thoughts of being in someone else’s shoes during the Peace Week Shoe Drive. On Peace Day, Lower Division Spanish classes took peace steps to the beat of Native American Drums, chanting for peace and love in multiple languages around the giant Peace Sign created by Mr. Mark Coate. The Upper Division orchestra along with choirs of all divisions provided moving Chapel performances. The video production teacher, Mr. Curt Foster, captured video memories of Peace Week 2017.
Casady School has been observing Peace Week for 5 years, but the celebration and awareness of the International Day of Peace began in 2007 when 4th graders requested the freshman class in service-learning sessions to help them make Pinwheels for Peace for the United Nations Association of Oklahoma City Observance of Peace Day. The goal of the pinwheels project is to intentionally focus on what brings inner peace on a symbol of joyful innocence, the pinwheel, and advocate kindness, compassion and service in our daily lives. The Peace One Day 2015 Results Report stated that “10% of the world’s population was aware of Peace Day 2015 and that an estimated 13 million people behaved more peacefully on Peace Day 2015.”
On Peace Day 2017, YAC invited Casady Cyclones to wear a peace, spirit, or volunteer t-shirt. The day began with a peace walk. HALO Dogs, “Sugar” and “Henry” led the walkers through a reflective path around the Casady Lake. A Recipeace Kolache Breakfast followed. Each of the Primary, Lower, Middle and Upper Divisions had Peace Day observances during its chapel times. Peace Day experiences around campus were beautifully captured by Drone Videographer, Mr. Marshall Palmer. At the end of the school day, Casady and Oklahoma Centennial High School Pinwheels were transported to the UN Observance of PEACE DAY at the State Capitol.
Shinnyo-en Foundation has supported YAC’s Peace Day efforts since 2008 when YAC met facilitators of the Six Billion Paths to Peace workshop at the National Service-Learning Conference organized by National Youth Leadership Council. The Foundation asked YAC, “What do you need?” and “How can we help you?” YAC requested a Six Billion Paths to Peace workshop at Casady and t-shirts to raise awareness for Peace Day. The Foundation sent a group of trainers and the entire school received shirts for several years.
Shinnyo-en Foundation’s Service Paradigm aligns with Casady’s Service-Learning Program’s objective to educate mind, body, and spirit with peace and joy at the heart of service. Casady students reflect on, If there are infinite paths to peace (through service], What is yours? when considering paths to complete their 45-hour service requirement for graduation. They are charged to Learn, Give, Grow, and Transform while participating in the community to improve lives.
Like a drop in water, each small act of service could reverberate out into the world expanding the experience of peace for all of us. Like a pebble, each small act of service could collectively add to a path to peace.