Every year, YMCAs across Canada celebrate acts of peace — and the people who volunteer their time and effort to make our communities better places to live — through the Peace Medal Awards.
During this annual event, YMCAs recognize individuals and groups who, without any special resources, status, wealth or position, have demonstrated a commitment to building peace within their community or communities elsewhere in the world, according to a media release dated Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. Peace-building – or doing good – is core to the YMCA’s commitment to strengthening the foundation of healthy communities and part of the YMCA of Eastern Ontario’s year-round programs.
The YMCAs Peace Week 2023 has a theme of “Do good. Build peace.” According to the release, the week focuses on celebrating people who do good in communities here or around the world. During YMCA Peace Week, the organization encourages Canadians to ask themselves how they can bring change to their communities.
“It’s important that we work together to create peaceful communities where everyone feels that they belong,” said Rob Adams, CEO of the YMCA of Eastern Ontario. “By celebrating YMCA Peace Week together, we are taking a stand and creating the future we want for our community, country, and world.”
According to the YMCA, Peace Week illuminates how the work of building peace needs individuals, communities, and countries to consider where we’ve been and where we want to go.
“We all have opportunities each day to choose to act for peace. They may be small actions, but they make a big difference and create a ripple effect across our region. By sharing our message of peace, kindness and optimism, we hope to inspire others to become engaged in positive actions,” Adams said.
A highlight of this week is the presentation of one or more YMCA Peace Medals to an individual or group who contributes to community wellbeing, whether that community is at the local, national, or global level.
Adams added, “We are seeking nominations of individuals or groups who are doing great things. There is very positive work being done by local people at home and abroad, and we hope to shine a light on these wonderful volunteers.”
This year’s medals will be presented to the honorees at the end of November. There are two categories — one for youth and one for adults. The deadline to submit nominations is Monday, Nov. 20, 2023.
The YMCA is also holding a Peace it Forward challenge.
“Carry out a peaceful act (for a person, group, or cause) then challenge a friend or family member to carry out their own act of peace,” the YMCA suggested. “Don’t forget to share your #actforpeace or someone else’s on social media during #ymcapeaceweek and beyond. Let’s see how far PEACE spreads!”
In the release, the YMCA shared some ideas on how to act for peace:
- Donate your time, talent, passion or skill to a person, organization or cause.
- Offer help to someone who needs assistance.
- Get to know your neighbours.
- Learn something new by researching the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.
- Stop when you see a demonstration, rally, or walk. Ask a participant about the cause.
“Join the #ymcapeaceweek social media discussion and add your own #actforpeace ideas,” the organization said.