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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 18, Number 6, April 2006

Toys for amnesty

by Susan Ruzik

I am one of the teacher members of the International Peace Education Conference (IPEC), which is a working group participating as part of the World Peace Forum from June 25–27.

One of the BCTF initiatives as part of IPEC is to ask all teachers in BC to talk to their students about peace and violence and then ask them to surrender their toys and games of violence and bring them to the Forum where they will be transformed into works of art by several artists.

The Museum of Anthropology will showcase these works from June to October. The idea originated with Sam Fillipoff, a retired Vancouver teacher who is another member of IPEC. He has Doukhobor roots and told us the story of how the Doukhobors surrendered their arms in the face of their enemies in order to have the conflict end in a peaceful way.

When I brought this idea back to teachers and parents in my district, they loved the idea but wanted the art to be done locally as Port Moody is a "City of the Arts."

I spoke to Lynda Baker, the manager of the Port Moody Arts Centre who thought it was a great idea and immediately put me in touch with Elizabeth Keuvorst, the manager of cultural services for the city, who said the city would support the idea. She also introduced me to artist Bill Thomson who makes art out of recycled objects. We have been given the Plum Room at the Blackberry Gallery in Port Moody to showcase the art from May 2–28.

I approached the Village Toy Shop, which sells educational toys in Newport Village, Port Moody, to see if I could get some toys to exchange for the violent ones. The owner of the store was thrilled to be a part of it and is offering toys or coupons to the children. She also held a "Toys for Amnesty" event at her store on April 1 with facepainting, entertainment, and the police were there with their cruisers. In our violent society, with many children not able to distinguish between reality and what they see on videos, TV, and computers, this is a timely topic. Even if children are not ready to surrender their toys, a seed will have been planted in their minds if they are exposed to the idea.

If you are able to find the time to talk to your students and collect their toys, we will be happy to collect them at Moody Elementary School or you can send them to the World Peace Forum. The artist is available to come to some schools to work with students. You could plan an event with a secondary or middle school and their feeder elementary schools. Give peace a chance and plan an event at your school!

Susan Ruzik teaches at Moody Elementary School, Port Moody.



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