Acts of Transformation: from War Toys to Peace Art

Olympic Truce

The Olympic Truce asks for warfare to cease on this planet for the duration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Participants in these games pledge to respect themselves and their competitors in the true spirit of sportsmanship throughout the games. The people working on the Peace Education Project, Acts of Transformation: from War Toys to Peace Art, believe this provides a unique opportunity to build upon the Olympic Truce with Canadians leading the way.

Putting war toys in the hands of children suggests that adults approve of violent play. War toys imply that power is to be taken and that killing is thrilling. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International report that more than 500, 000 children under 18 years of age have been recruited into government armed forces, paramilitaries, civil militia and various other armed groups in more than 85 counties. At any one time, more than 300, 000 of these children are actively fighting as soldiers. Whether recruited or abducted to join armies, these children have witnessed or taken part in actions of unbelievable violence, often against their own families or communities. Let’s help put an end to child soldiering on this planet. Ask your children and students to surrender their war toys to be transformed into peace art and consider how we might assist those children who are soldiers.

2010 will be the final year of the UN International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non Violence for the Children of the World. The Olympic Rings have the potential of becoming symbols of peace. Acts of Transformation: from War Toys to Peace Art provides a means to help kids understand the importance of stepping away from violence and creating pathways to working towards peaceful solutions. The challenge will be to capture the imagination of people united by a common love of sports to focus on the ties that bind us together.

A Children’s Peace Cultural and Educational Showcase for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games would give our children a voice within the global community through their Acts of Transformation: from War Toys to Peace Art. Children would have the opportunity to explore this idea through their art. Adults would have the opportunity to consider what children have to say.

In the UN Olympic Truce Resolution on November 4, 2005 press release, Jim Furlong, VANOC CEO stated, “Canada embraces the values and spirit of Olympism…At Vancouver 2010, we fully intend to build upon the Olympic Truce in a uniquely Canadian way as we aim to inspire the world by igniting a genuine passion for sport.” Our belief is that we can be part of this transformation towards a world where peace is the norm and not a lofty ideal within a small margin of time.



Olympic Peace Rings

The Olympics provides ample opportunity for particularly engaging teaching moments. The official Olympic education website provides teachers with useful materials for two of the three pillars of the Olympic Movement: the Olympics and the Paralympics. However, no curricular support is offered for the third pillar: the Olympic Peace Truce. In light of this fact, this simple lesson plan has been developed by the Peace and Global Educators PSA to bring the Peace Truce to life for our students through a Peace Rings project. Through this project, students will be able to become familiar with the third pillar of the Olympic Movement and use visual and/or written symbols and words to express their vision of peace.

1. Activating Prior Knowledge: Teachers may choose to begin with a discussion of what students know about the Olympics and the Olympic Movement. It is likely that most students will be familiar with only the first of the three pillars with a few also having some knowledge of the Paralympic Games.

2. Learning About the Olympic Truce: The third pillar can be introduced through exploration of the Olympic Truce website, which includes an animated timeline tracing the historical truce from its origins in Ancient Greece (it was one of the world’s longest standing peace truces, lasting 1200 years!). The website also has a section on “Peace through Sport” under “Olympism in Action” that is useful for introducing the place of peace in the larger Olympic Movement.

3. Critical Framing: At this point, a discussion of why the third pillar is less well-known that the first two will provide students with the critical framing necessary to fully engage with a transformative practice. It may be that peace is not as exciting as the competition of sports, or that peace is not profitable, or that there are so many challenges to world peace. Regardless, this project will allow students to be a part of increasing awareness of this important pillar.

4. Brainstorming: Brainstorming peace symbols and words about peace is helpful to get the creative juices flowing. Encourage students to develop their own symbolic representation for peace in words or images. The “peace sign” and the Olympic rings can be used as examples of the power of symbolism.

5. Designing a Peace Ring: Students then have the opportunity to create their own peace ring using the accompanying template. Encourage powerful designs as the purpose is to catch the eye of passers-by and inform them of the importance of peace.

6. Display: Finally, the rings can be cut out and displayed in a public area. They can be linked in groups of five to symbolically connect to the Olympics, and an accompanying print out of the Olympic Truce will inform viewers of this powerful pillar of the Olympic Movement. A written or oral reflection on what they drew/wrote and why will further allow students the chance to show what they know.