The future sure seems a lot brighter when you get to spend the day with a bunch of great kids who enjoy being around one another. On 11 February 2017 I volunteered to help shoot photos for a Kids 4 Peace Seattle overnight retreat. I had a great time. I’ve been shooting photographs at a lot of protests recently, and while political activism is a good thing, protests shed light on issues that divide us. It was nice to be around a group of friendly kids who are interested in supporting one another and talking about the things that unite us.
I learned about the Kids 4 Peace organization when I attended a conference at Seattle’s Town Hall that was focused on confronting Islamophobia. It was a community, interfaith gathering, and Kids 4 Peace had some brochures and a banner sitting out at a side table. In January I saw a reference in The Stranger to a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Youth Advocacy Workshop that was sponsored by Kids 4 Peace Seattle and the American Muslim Empowerment Network (AMEN, part of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound). I went, took some photos, and wrote a short overview here on the blog. A fortuitous chain of events. The program directors at Kids 4 Peace Seattle asked if I’d be interested in helping them get some photos from their 11 February get together. I said yes, and I think I got the better end of the bargain.
I showed up at about noon. The kids had spent the previous hour or two learning some Hebrew and Arabic. I asked some of the kids to give me the gist of the weekend’s activities and objectives. One young man shrugged his shoulders and said, “Just spend time together.” Concise and accurate, but I think it might be an over-simplification. It seemed to me that the kids were taking the sort of steps that help build local communities, trust, and confidence. And they were doing it largely through their creativity, enthusiasm, and initiative. The Kids4Peace staff was actively involved with the activities, but they did not provide explicit lists of objectives or learning points. Instead, they handed over a lot of latitude for the kids to interact and actually talk to one another.