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With urban neighborhoods under siege by violence, Student Peace Alliance offers hope

LatinaLista — Peace. It’s more than a word. To some it’s an elusive concept, but to others it’s an achievable reality.

Peace doesn’t just mean eradicating wars but eradicating violence, even at the most basic level — in communities.

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Some countries understand that to attain long-lasting peace in the 21st Century, resources must be dedicated to educating the public. For example, Costa Rica has established a Ministry for Justice and Peace.

Yet, for peace to become ingrained in lives, it’s best to start teaching peace and peaceful practices to the children. For that reason, the Student Peace Alliance was formed in 2006.

The Student Peace Alliance is a national youth movement to mobilize the next generation to not only learn how to create peace but sustain it.

Working with Student Peace Alliance, youth throughout the country engage communities and policy makers in building sustainable peace. We take a two-pronged approach that utilizes both federally focused advocacy efforts and applied peacebuilding in local communities.

We advocate for evidence-based legislation and policy that will enhance our capacity to reduce violence and build sustainable peace both domestically and internationally. Our applied peacebuilding efforts engage youth in the day-to-day work of understanding and preventing violence in our homes, communities and institutions.

Next month, from February 26-28, the Student Peace Alliance will hold their second national conference; the theme of the conference is “Extreme Makeover Peace in the 21st Century“.

Over 500 young people are expected to travel to Texas to attend the three-day conference where they will participate in training exercises, hear a wide variety of expert speakers talk about everything from peace initiatives abroad and domestically to justice issues in the United States, and even participate in some fun “activist songwriting.”

The conference will also focus on promoting the Youth PROMISE Act and the need for a U.S. Department of Peace, which is proposed by HR 808.

So far, Ben & Jerry’s has contributed a large amount of money to go towards scholarships for the conference that will help the students pay their for their transportation, food and hotels. Conference organizers are looking for more donations to help get more students to the conference.

With so many urban neighborhoods under siege by gang violence, this is a conference that more cities need to be aware of. It’s easy to see that diminishing violence in today’s society doesn’t just ensure everyone’s safety but creates stronger communities.

…peace is not a utopian ideal; it is an issue critical to our national and human security. Either we continue reactively addressing ever-increasing levels of violence and the consequent human and economic costs, or we take a fresh approach. This isn’t about the politics of left or right; it is about what is practical and effective.

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