Bowdoin Welcomes Harlem Children's Zone Peacemaker Program
Story posted June 25, 2007
Bowdoin College hosted 50 fifth-graders from Harlem June 29 to July 5, 2007, as part of the Harlem Children's Zone's Peacemakers Institute Program. The program teaches young people living in areas plagued with violence how to resolve conflicts peacefully and imparts the importance of patience, tolerance and respect.
This is the 13th year the Peacemakers program has brought inner-city children to Bowdoin to expose them to college life while teaching them problem-solving and dispute resolution skills. Students are given a theme to research at Hawthorne-Longfellow Library and create presentations that they perform at the end of their stay. This year's theme focused on the impact of technological advancements throughout human history. Students also enjoyed the outdoors with games and activities and kept journals about their experiences.
The Peacemakers Program began to come together in the early 1990s as juvenile crime rates, especially those in large urban areas like New York City, were on the rise. Harlem Children's Zone President and CEO Geoffrey Canada '74 felt that the characterization of inner-city youth as violent "super predators" was not only unfair and untrue, but threatened the foundation of society. Canada and his staff began to develop a program to combat this unfair image.
The Peacemakers Program is funded by AmeriCorps, a network of local, state and national service programs that help Americans meet critical needs in the areas of education, public safety, health and the environment in the U.S.
The Harlem Children's Zone's mission is to create positive opportunities for all children living in a 60-block area of Central Harlem by helping parents, residents, teachers and others create a safe learning environment. More than 150 Peacemaker volunteers work directly in classrooms and operate after-school and summer programs at five schools serving 1,200 elementary children in the Harlem Children's Zone.
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