Speech given by Lia, a 10th grade participant in Kids4Peace Seattle, at Inspiring Hope, The Kids4Peace Seattle Annual Benefit.
Hi my name is Lia, I’m Jewish and in 10th grade. I’ve only been a part of K4P for one year, but it has already become such an important part of my life.
In K4P we are able to form bonds and make connections with people outside of our normal social circles. That can mean someone of a different faith or ethnicity in Seattle and in Jerusalem. I have met so many incredible people and heard so many eye-opening stories about their lives, goals and passion for change.
One story in particular that sticks out to me about meeting new people was last summer when I was in Washington D.C. at the Kids4Peace Global Institute. It opened my eyes to a different way of viewing race in the United States. After spending a week learning about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the implications of it, I was overwhelmed with the ideas of the hardships that my friends in Jerusalem live with everyday. Then, one day we had a fishbowl discussion which is where a group of people sitting in the center have a discussion and a group of people on the outside observe, just like a fishbowl. We were split up by country and we were asked questions such as “What do you love about your country?” “What do you fear about your country?” And “What do you wish people would know about your country?” Going into it, I was certain that the Palestinians and Israelis would have the most difficult examples to share for some of the questions. But when the American group began to discuss some of the questions, I had to switch my mindset back to the reality of everything that is wrong and the racism millions of Americans are affected by.
Up until that point I had been somewhat aware of police brutality and discrimination, but I had never heard personal experiences. When we started discussing our fears I was deeply moved by the fact that one of our amazing leaders, who is black, opened up about her experience with police violence after losing a loved one in a confrontation with police. She talked about the fear she lives with everyday worrying about the safety of her family and friend’s, the way she feels when she sees a police officer, and other struggles of being a black person in America. Brianna told us how determined she was to dismantle prejudice and racism especially in our police forces. It was emotional, honest, and motivating at the same time.
It made me think differently about the safety of my friends who are people of color and how they must feel towards the police. When we returned to Seattle, I learned about initiative-940, De-escalate Washington. De-escalate Washington, is an initiative that would “require law enforcement to receive violence de-escalation, mental-health, and first-aid training, and provide first-aid; and change standards for use of deadly force, adding a “good faith” standard and independent investigation.” I was very inspired by what Brianna had said and it had made me so much more inclined and excited to want to get involved and work to make this a law. We were going to be working with people who are trying to achieve the same thing that Brianna is. I was able to canvas and gather signatures and educate others about the initiative. The whole time that I was doing it I kept telling myself, this is for Brianna and for everyone who has ever been affected by police shootings.
Although I’m still too young to vote, I am trying my best to make any impact I can politically and socially in my community. Through Kids4Peace, I have been able to use my voice to spark the change the I want to see in my society. Similarly most of you might not be a participant in the program, but still want to help in any way that you can. You are all here tonight because you also care about Kids4Peace and you care about helping empower youth to be leaders for social change. Now is your chance to take action to help make that happen. By donating to Kids4Peace you would not only be helping to fund our amazing programs and camps but also helping give youth in our community who can’t afford to come to our camps the opportunity to join us and learn and make these very special connections. I hope you will support Kids4Peace, because all of your contributions matter. Thank you!