Creating peace in the Middle East, 12 families at a time
Kids4Peace (Canada) brings four Jewish, four Muslim, and four Christian eleven year-old children from the Galilee region of Israel to a summer camp in Ontario to create new friendships and to help build the human foundations for peace in their troubled region.
Kids4Peace is an interfaith education-for-peace initiative of St. George’s College Jerusalem, with the cooperation of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. The program was launched in 2002 when twelve children from Jerusalem attended a summer camp in Houston Texas. Since then 150 children from Jerusalem and Galilee have participated in summer camp programs in Houston, Atlanta, Vermont, and Toronto.
The Kids4Peace programs bring together Jewish, Christian and Muslim children across the cultural divides in Israel. These programs are unique in encouraging dialogue among kids of three different faith traditions, a process which is also beneficial to the hosting communities in the West. Eleven year-old children are old enough to travel, yet young enough to embrace friendship with children of other faiths and overcome their cultural differences.
Both the children and their parents participate in a program of interaction in Galilee leading up to the trip to Canada. Children continue for 8 months to be guided by professional advisors and facilitators of the three faiths. Kids4Peace offers the families the option of continuing their dialogue beyond the first 8 months as well. The program is designed to foster, support and strengthen the growing community of interfaith families working together to create peace in Israel.
Kids4Peace is non-denominational, non-political and non-partisan. All participants – staff, families and children – share a commitment to peace. They also share a belief that an educational experience of respect and understanding for cultural and religious diversity should begin with the very young, and reach out to invite adults as well into mature ways of coexistence.
These children are the leaders of the future. Our hope and prayer is that they will have the intercultural and inter-religious tools necessary to transcend the conflict and over time create new realities for peace.