Everything is coming together, according to Sarah Clements, a Newtown High School student and Junior Newtown Action Alliance (Jr NAA) Chair for the Newtown PeaceJam, Transforming Tragedy event being planned for Sunday, October 6. It will be at Reed Intermediate School, 3 Trades Lane.
Jr NAA is affiliated with Newtown Action Alliance, a grassroots organization created in the weeks after 12/14 to reverse gun violence through legislation and broader cultural change.
According to the website set up for the event, “The Newtown Foundation, PeaceJam New England and the Jr Newtown Action Alliance have come together to offer Newtown Middle and High School students the opportunity to explore how one experience or event does not define who you are, or who you will become. Tragedy does not need to lead to despair. Instead, it can be transformed into the fuel for reaching toward new levels of positive change in your life and in your actions.”
After attending an April PeaceJam event, Sarah said Jr NAA members were inspired to hold a similar event for students in the Newtown community. The Jr NAA attended PeaceJam New England, a conference held in April at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. The UConn event featured Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and workshops on topics such as peace building and activism as service.
“We thought other Newtown students should be able to experience that,” Sarah explained.
Sarah said Jr NAA has been working with a number of local groups, like Ben’s Bells Newtown, to put the event together.
The event, according to the event’s website, will include group discussions with mentors trained through PeaceJam, a keynote speaker, team building games, a workshop with Ben’s Bells, and community projects.
People expecting to attend the Newtown PeaceJam event are asked to register at the event’s website, www.newtownaction.org/peacejam. The event is open only to mentors and the youth of Newtown, according to the online registration page.
Edie Lutnik is set to the be the event’s keynote speaker, and Sarah said Ms Lutnik, as the co-founder and president of The CantorFitzgerald Relief Fund, a non profit charity set up following 9/11 to address short and long term needs for the victims, has experience with traumatic events and finding ways to move forward.
Admission to the Newtown PeaceJam event will be free, according to Sarah. She also said the event will not be political.
Sarah said she expects the Newtown PeaceJam event will be similar to the PeaceJam event the Jr NAA attended in April, as it will foster peace making and moving forward while being fun.