Archives For kids4peace seattle

Speech given by Alex, a 9th grade participant in Kids4Peace Seattle, at Inspiring Hope, The Kids4Peace Seattle Annual Benefit.

My name is Alex. I am a 9th grade Christian, and am in my 4th year at Kids4Peace.

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Alex and Monica during our Fall Retreat.

I joined Kids4Peace because I was going to a Christian private school in a primarily white neighborhood. I saw a lack of diversity in my life, but once I joined Kids4Peace I saw kids my age with different views and backgrounds together. Kids4Peace is important to me because I can see change happening, I can make change happen. Since I have joined Kids4Peace, I have taken detours from days at the mall to protest in the airport, taught world religion lessons to the kids at my sister’s middle school, pulled weeds in immigrant farmer’s fields, and met kids who live on the other side of the world.

Half of these things I did not even do within Kids4Peace programs, but I guarantee you I would not have done them if I was not in this program. This is why Kids4Peace is important: it not only has us create change in our Kids4Peace community, but it inspires us to go back into our own communities and create change every day.

Growing up I always had a specific idea of how I should act and how I should be because of the community I grew up in. In Kids4Peace I can share my values without fear of judgment, IN KIDS4PEACE MY VOICE IS HEARD.

Kids4Peace is a name that not everyone understands because here in Seattle we are not fighting a physical war, but that does not mean we do not have things to stand for. In Kids4Peace we strive for equity, we push for love, we struggle for the voices of everyone to be heard, we lobby for social justice, locally, nationally, and internationally.

We hope you have learned a thing or two about our organization this evening, and that you are inspired by our hope for peace and equity both in our community and across the world.

Alex

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.

 

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Lia with her peers in Washington D.C.

 

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.

 

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Lia, with others in Seattle, canvassing for I-940.

 

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!

 

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Lia and Frieda during the Kids4Peace Fall Retreat.

 

Speech given by Frieda, a 10th grade participant in Kids4Peace Seattle, at Inspiring Hope, The Kids4Peace Seattle Annual Benefit.

Hello my name is Frieda, I am in 10th grade and have been a part of Kids4Peace for 5 years.

Kids4Peace is a huge part of my life. It has given me a supportive community and lifelong friends. These friends live all over the United States from Seattle to Boston to Florida to Houston. Some of my closest friends also live on the other side of the world in Jerusalem.

I keep in touch with my friends across the world. We Skype and have a group chat with almost 50 people. I Snapchat my friends for advice. Across a 10 hour time difference, I have deep philosophical conversations with them.

I love how Kids4Peace is a normal summer camp where we hang out together, have inside jokes, and grow up together, but Kids4Peace is also a community where we can do something meaningful in the world around us. For example, this past summer in Washington DC we lobbied for a bill on Capitol Hill.  This work makes me feel like I’m really making a significant impact on our global community.

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Frieda with friends on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.

Though my friends and I lead very different lives, we are connected through our passion for making change in this challenging world. Like the students across the US protesting gun violence, we don’t have to wait to be adults to make change.

This past February, during Black History Month, my history teacher was leading a mandated unit on racism and how to recognize it.  As I was sitting in class, I could tell that the curriculum was lacking in many areas that we have discussed in Kids4Peace. Knowing that there were better ways to approach this topic, I took the time to discuss this with him. During our conversation, I was able to share some of the knowledge I have gained and help him understand how he could be more thoughtful when he approaches this subject in the future.

 

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Frieda, Martina, Alex, and Lia speaking about their experiences and work in Kids4Peace.

 

This evening you have heard stories about Kids4Peace in Seattle… Kids4Peace in France… and Kids4Peace in Jerusalem. K4P youth around the world are making change in our own communities.

Tonight my friends and I are excited to share with you a little bit of the work we are doing here in Seattle. This video will show you a small part of what we are doing every day to make a difference.

Speech given by Evan, a 9th grade participant in Kids4Peace Seattle, at Inspiring Hope, The Kids4Peace Seattle Annual Benefit.

My name is Evan, and I’m a 9th grader in the Kids4Peace program. I’ve been in Kids4Peace for 4 years now, and I’ve been exposed to many things I never would have experienced before.

I’ve only lived here in Seattle for 4 years, and Kids4Peace has made my move to Washington State easier. In the time I’ve been here Kids4Peace has changed the way I see the world, making it an organization like no other. But I didn’t always feel this way.

I first joined Kids4Peace in 2014 at the recommendation of my youth group leader, and at first I was hesitant. Kids4Peace seemed like a large commitment, and I had just moved here. I wasn’t sure I was up for the job.

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Looking back, I am so glad I decided to join. On the outside, Kids4Peace seems like a simple peace building organization, and though it does do that, it is so much more. When asked about my time in Kids4Peace, I always answer the same thing. Kids4Peace is a community, a family. The people here support each other, whether one of us is in need of help, or whether we are educating each other on the wonders of stroopwafels.

Kids4Peace has also guided me to things I never expected to be a part of, such as activism work, marches, workshops of all shapes and sizes, and summer programs that are not only enlightening, but extremely fun.

 

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Evan, Jordan, Jacob, and Risa attended a march in downtown Seattle — January 2017

 

I remember a while back we engaged in a poverty simulation, which opened my eyes. Many people feel bad for those who are less fortunate, but simply move on with their lives. They forget. Kids4Peace showed us more about people who live with this reality every day, the reality of not being able to support themselves or their families. The simulation helped us learn what this was like through unfair treatment, loss of belongings, and lack of basic rights. I left having met others who have experienced these things, knowing their stories and having a better understanding of their daily lives.

Kids4Peace has taught me about important values such as acceptance, and compromise, as well as showing me more about social division and conflict happening not just in our area, but around the world. Kids4Peace has changed my life.

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Speech given by Jacob, a 10th grade participant in Kids4Peace Seattle, at Inspiring Hope, The Kids4Peace Seattle Annual Benefit.

CLICK HERE to read the first part of this story, as told by Jacob’s friend Risa (another Kids4Peace Seattle youth participant).

Hello, my name is Jacob, and this will be my third summer with Kids4Peace. Risa and I represent just one part of a global interfaith organization. Kids4Peace is a group of interfaith youth with chapters in Jerusalem, France, and across the US. Here in Seattle, about 25 participants regularly attend monthly meetings. Kids4Peace also hosts camps during the summer. At all of these programs we learn about social issues, leadership skills, as well as the experiences of others through dialogue, thought-provoking activities and story sharing. We also host community workshops throughout the year, reaching hundreds of youth.

Like Risa said, we’ve known each other for a while: We work as assistant teachers at our synagogue together and ride the same bus to school. About three and a half years ago she told me that Kids4Peace was having an open house, and invited me to come.

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Jacob and other K4P youth planning their activism work around the I-940 De-Escalate Campaign.

I remember being very tentative. This was a new group that I barely knew anything about. But I was also a little curious so, I decided, why not? I’m a kid. I like peace, and it’ll only be a single meeting for a few hours. Three and half years later, Kids4Peace is an integral part of my life, and my identity.

Upon arriving to my first Kids4Peace meeting, I timidly slipped into the meeting room, feeling confused about how to act because everyone seemed busy chatting with each other and preparing snacks.

Risa was the only person I knew. Immediately though, someone strode right over and welcomed me, saying hi, and involving me in a conversation they were having about their week at school. I have never more quickly felt connected with a group of people. A little bit into the meeting, I remember dividing up into partners for a group activity. I was nervous I was going to be left alone without one, because no-one knew me, but to my relief, someone walked straight up to me and invited me to join them.

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It is the kindness that my kids4peace friends showed to me at my first meeting that we are trying to spread in our community. From standing outside MAPS, a local mosque, in support when their sign was smashed by a vandal, to having tough conversations about the experiences of immigrants, we support each other in understanding and solving issues that our community faces.

Our stories are just two of many, so with the same open arms that welcomed me to Kids4Peace, we would like to welcome all of you, and invite you into our Kids4Peace community.

During the event, when Risa and Jacob told their stories, they posed these questions to the audience:

We would like to ask all of you to take some time right now to reflect on some of your personal experiences. We are going to ask you to think about three things, and we would like you to take a second just to think about each thing in your mind.

We invite you to think about…

  • …a time when you were able to use knowledge you took from your community and applied it to something you felt passionate about.
  • …a time when you didn’t feel welcomed and accepted within your community
  • …a time when you were with people that encouraged and empowered you to be your best.

We invite you to reflect on these questions in the week to come, and don’t forget to check back for more stories next week!

On January 14th, 80 youth from the greater Seattle area gathered for a workshop called “Make Your Voice Heard”.  It was the day before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, drawing inspiration from King to empower youth to speak up about issues they care about.

The first part of the event was an opportunity for participants to hear from three different speakers. Max Patashnik who is the Government Affairs and Community Relations Senior Manager at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle did a presentation on Judaism and Antisemitism. Jasmin Samy is the Civil Rights Director at CAIR-Washington State and she did a presentation on Islam and Islamophobia. Finally, Essam Muhammad who is a local Spoken Word Artist and Poet, and is active in the South Seattle community, performed a spoken word piece for all in attendance. This was a way to get the participants thinking about issues in the world and lead them into their breakout session. As participant Maryam said, “We may not realize it but discrimination and hate happens all around us”.

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In the second part of the workshop, youth had the opportunity to participate in one of four breakout sessions. The sessions were News Media, Talking About Issues You Care About, Film, and Spoken Word. Each session gave the youth a different perspective on voicing their opinions and speaking up for what they believe in. The tools that they were given could help them speak up against Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and any other issues they care about.

We heard from two participants of the Spoken Word breakout session, and they were certainly inspired. “Poetry is a way to express yourself, and it seems like something I can do after school” said Maeve. Elizabeth said “I liked the free writing, and I want to tell my friends about this”.

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Throughout the event, participants met back at their table groups to discuss what they were finding. They talked about what this experience meant to them, Nathan said “Through the learning, I feel empowered”. To him, this event was not only about speaking up, it was about learning about other people’s view of the world. Habiba said “We should all use our voice because it is a privilege, we should use it before it’s taken away. We need to use it for ourselves, and those who don’t have a voice”. Going along with speaking up for others, Mariam said “In the world we tend to only stand up for ourselves and our friends, but we should stand up for everyone”.

To finish off the workshop, we had participants further their call to action by writing down what they want to use their voice for. It was a way to remind participants that this workshop gave them tools, but they are the real voice of change in their communities.

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Click here to find lots more photos from our event in our Facebook Album!

Written by: Viktorina, Kids4Peace Seattle Communications Intern

On Sunday, October 22, 2017, youth in Seattle and Cincinnati gathered with their communities for an afternoon of learning and friendship. Here is just a little taste of what the day held for everyone!

In Seattle…

Our October meeting was busy! Chances are we all left feeling a little overwhelmed, but in the best possible way. The school year is shaping up to be full of continued learning, advocacy work, planning and running workshops for other youth in the community, diving deeper into case studies of conflict, critically examining current events, and so much more!

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Some highlights:

Our 10th graders, fresh from spending part of their summer in Washington DC, are taking on some local advocacy work with the De-Escalate Washington Campaign.

Our 9th graders are spending the year preparing for their trip to Washington DC next summer. They will be continuing to hone their leadership skills and deepen their understanding of advocacy. We started out their preparation with a crash course in the structure of the United States Government! The 9th graders will also be working together to plan and implement a workshop for younger youth later in the year, a workshop that will share some of the core messages of our work in Kids4Peace!

Our middle school students began the year critically examining some stories of conflict that we find in the sacred scripture of our religious traditions. This began their journey of exploring conflicts from around the world in preparation for heading to International Camp next summer with youth from both the United States and Jerusalem.

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Finally, we all worked together to begin planning our upcoming holiday celebrations – a time when our whole community can come together and share about our personal family traditions and the holidays we celebrate throughout the year. Our youth were excited to serve as party planners for this event and we can’t wait to celebrate together at our first event on November 4th!

In Cincinnati…

What do eight campers, twelve staff members, 40 plants, and one arching tree all have in common? Kids4Peace, of course! The Cincinnati chapter gathered on Sunday for a tree planting ceremony in Cincinnati’s historic cemetery, Spring Grove Cemetery. Having purchased a ‘peace plot’ earlier this year, participants were able to plant some seeds and saplings in the ground, leaving a remnant of their work and love for K4P.

After two months of being apart, the community came together with families and staff to celebrate the season of fall. It was a gorgeous day for planting. With running and jumping embraces youth greeted old friends who they had not seen since August. Shouts and laughter were exchanged over bags of chips and trowels. Hands and knees were strained, digging and planting in the soft ground. A lovely time was had.

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After the participants finished planting—dandelions, roses, sunflowers and one large tree—we gathered together for a tree-planting service to make the day more sacred. Bible verses, poetry, and prayers from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam were shared and chanted. Songs were sung; and cheers were shouted.

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The day was wrapped up with a historical tour of the cemetery. The campers got an up close look at some of the monuments and mausoleums. Some even got close to the swans and snails that lined the lakes and ponds’ surfaces. It was a day of becoming close with another and with nature. Our community remains strong, as we continue to grow together from the same root. What an exciting day it was!

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The Cincinnati chapter will get together again in just two weeks on November 10th to worship with the Islamic Center in Westchester, Ohio.

For more photos from these events see the Seattle or Cincinnati Facebook page!

Posted by: Viktorina, Kids4Peace Seattle Communications Intern

On October 8th, 2017, 25 youth participants gathered at the University of Washington to explore some of the differences that can divide us. More importantly, participants and facilitators worked together to strategize how we can overcome difference and step out of our comfort zone to get to know others that we encounter in our daily lives.

The Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS) and OneWorld Now! (OWN) brought activities and wisdom from their experiences working with diverse youth, joining Kids4Peace Seattle to organize this workshop, which drew youth from around the Greater Seattle area.

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As the middle and high school participants gathered they had the opportunity to engage in different activities. From exploring the different religious traditions to being introduced to the many ways to say “hello” around the world, participants began actively thinking about the things that divide us, and their own reactions to these things. The participants became conscious about differences in age, culture, gender, and more, before moving into deeper learning about languages with OWN and cultural differences with FIUTS.

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Nelson Mandela said, “If you talk to a person in a language they understand, that goes to their head. If you talk to a person in their language, that goes to their heart.” As youth began their breakout session with OWN, participants got the hang of phrases in Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, and French, learning a variety of survival phrases like “Hi, Bye, Yes, No, Thank You, Where is the Bathroom, etc”. Not only did they learn to communicate by speaking, they learned how to communicate with their actions.

This exploration of language introduced the youth to challenges they may face when meeting different people. As this session came to a close, youth reflected on the importance of language as a means of connecting with people across language barriers, and began to build empathy and deeper understanding as they encounters others in the future.

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The breakout session with FIUTS began by assigning a few people in the group a specific behavior. Because some of these behaviors were a little bit silly, this immediately broke the ice and began a deep discussion on what it is like when your actions, specifically the ones rooted in your culture, are misunderstood by those around you. Using the analogy of an iceberg, youth explored the 20 percent of culture that is visible above the surface, and the other 80 percent hidden under the water. The fact that you may only see a small part of a person requires the often difficult work of digging deeper to become aware of the things that make them unique.

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As the event came to a close, whether it meant telling a friend about what they had learned, writing a story for their school newspaper, or posting on social media some of their takeaways (#dialogueacrossdifference), all of the participants were challenged to find a way to take action in the coming week!

Just as we asked all of our youth participants, how can you be inspired to engage in conversation with someone who is different than you?

Written by: Viktorina, Kids4Peace Seattle Communications Intern

In honor of the United Nations International Day of Peace, celebrated annually on September 21st, youth in Kids4Peace Seattle share their reflections on peace:

“Peace is the acceptance of others in all communities across the world.”

–Jacob, 10th Grade

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“Life is a constant battle for peace. Those who choose to advocate are the warriors.”

–Tallulah, 10th Grade

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“Peace is the bridge between anger and love.”

–Alex, 9th Grade

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“We can find peace everywhere, we just have to look.”

–Annabelle, 8th Grade

This past spring, youth from Seattle shared about their experiences in KidsPeace. Together they shared their story about the meaning and impact of this work in their lives and in their communities. As you hear their story in the video below, we invite you to reflect on your own stories and definitions of peace.

We truly believe that together, peace is possible.

by Sarah Rose, K4P Seattle Counselor

Kids4Peace Seattle’s overnight last weekend was one for the books! It was filled with laughter, fun, and bonding between the first and second year participants. We watched the Disney/Pixar movie Inside Out, and then tried to connect the ideas presented with the mission of Kids4Peace. We examined the importance of accepting everyone, recognizing what individuals can contribute and that everyone has something valuable to offer to society in some way. We also discussed the importance of understanding our emotions. Our dialogue leader, Pam, asked us to share a time we felt sad but did not feel we could reveal it. One of the second year participants, Maya, noted that, she “learned that there are different perspectives on each side. Someone isn’t being mean just because they want to be mean, there’s always something else going on that causes them to act out that way. Listening and understanding where they are coming from is key to accepting them.”

The issue of popularity in school and its impacts came up and definitely struck a chord for all of the participants. Establishing a safe place for everyone to be open allowed for a meaningful and eye-opening experience for all. One of the first-year participants, David, explained that he “liked how we talked about popularity and shared our real feelings. We weren’t holding anything back. It helped me understand that we all have different situations but we can still connect.”

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The group hard at work at the Jewish Family Service food bank.

 

Emilio, another first-year participant, came to similar conclusions stating, “I really liked the discussion about popularity, because we never talked about that stuff before so it was nice to hear other people are experiencing the same things. I also really liked our discussion this morning about connecting more with each other. I feel like now the 7th graders are talking more with the 8th graders so I feel more comfortable talking with them.”

As I sat listening to the discussion, I became even more amazed and inspired by the participants. To be able to have such an open and mature conversation and share such insightful thoughts was truly an unforgettable experience. By allowing themselves to be vulnerable and talk about a tough and very personal matter, they become an even stronger and more connected group. In Seattle, we would refer to this as the “magic” of Kids4Peace.

Another magical experience of the weekend happened when we had Hebrew and Arabic lessons. Two of Seattle’s Program Team members, Tamar and Rula, taught us conversational phrases along with some food words (such as chicken, cheese, and bread). On the one hand, this was quite fun for the kids, but on the other hand it was very frustrating. This exercise helped the kids understand what it must have been like for their friends from Jerusalem to come to camp and not know a lot of English. Beginning to understand the difficulty of learning new languages led to a conversation about how to stand in solidarity with people they encounter who do not speak English well.

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The group learns some Arabic and Hebrew phrases with Rula (and baby Malka!) and Tamar.

 

Standing in solidarity with each other, our friends in Jerusalem, and everyone that we encounter has been our theme this year during discussions and activities in meetings. Hearing about the seemingly relentless violence in Jerusalem, where we all have friends living, has been heart-breaking for all of us here in Seattle.  We continue to find hope in the actions of others, not just in Jerusalem but around the world.

The fact that the Kids4Peace Jerusalem family is stronger than ever and continues to have hope that peace is still obtainable, is truly inspiring and amazing. Seattle will continue to stand in solidarity with Jerusalem. Although we could not be physically any farther apart, our faith, love, and connection to our K4P family on the other side of the world is closer than ever.

Above: A short film that Kids4Peace Seattle made for our friends in Jerusalem.