An Astonishing Story -- Mini-UN Makes "Peace Shift"

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Dear ArtWavEs Community!

We’re all painting on the great Canvas of Love, and I trust your compositions are masterpieces! The aspiring peacepainters at Kealakehe Elementary School are certainly creating “master-peaces,” original and salient silk paintings for peace in their hearts, and more astonishing, peace in the world.

It amazes me, but what the children say about it and how it turns into kindness and harmony is even more striking.

Working with the AWE team this spring, 10- and 11-year-olds are making not only silk paintings, but they are creating a more loving environment for the school, our communities, and the world.

In the transformative ArtWavEs program, the 130 students participating in the project form a mini-United Nations. They include Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, Japanese, Chinese, Ukrainians, Russians, South Americans, Africans, Europeans, & Native peoples from all over the globe.

Many suffer from hunger, homelessness, trauma, displacement, and despair, but in our AWE program, they learn how to transform struggle into beauty, they sense how artmaking changes their inner world, and through that, they see how the world around them changes. They experience what we call the “peace shift.”

After only three AWE classes, they tell me some of the extraordinary things they’ve learned. “I always know how to make art,” a young girl says. “I just didn’t know what I knew.”

Where does art come from? “My heart,” says a young boy. Another says simply, “God.”

The children’s responses tell me that they experience art-making as an innate desire, an instinct for harmony, order, and integration. They discover they can satisfy themselves and be happy. They understand how to create healthy pleasures and steer away from unhealthy choices.

When asked why they were doing it, one girl says, “Every child likes to make art.” Another adds, “Because it’s fun.”

Not every child has fun right away. Some are fighting inner turmoil that turns into rowdiness and rude behavior. One told me I was a “bad artist” and that I looked like I “needed a spanking.” Unable to focus, they would jump up from their table and run around the room, spilling paint and then, to annoy others, paint over and ruin other children’s lovely work.

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We were prepared for some of the distressing behaviors that have been well-documented as both the causes and symptoms of children’s anger, violence, loneliness, poor attitudes and other hallmarks of pandemic-era post-traumatic stress.

In exasperation one day, I said to two of the most defiant ones, “Do you even know what it means to be nice?” They stared at me blankly. “No, really, have you ever seen anyone be kind?” I asked.

One looked down sheepishly and then said, so quietly you could hardly hear, “My dad gave a homeless guy some food.” Another added, “We saw a dog that was hurting and took him to the Humane Society.”

“Great examples,” I said, astonished at how quickly their energy shifted. It was like a potential Charles Manson transforming into Mother Theresa, right before my eyes. “What else?” I asked. “When have you been kind?” They couldn’t think of anything.

“Well, I think you’re being kind by listening, answering my question well, and thinking about kindness, Mahalo for that,” I said. They looked proud, grateful for the acknowledgment. They stopped fidgeting, picked up their paintbrushes, and went back to work on their paintings, breathing a sigh of relief. They felt calm, knew themselves as good and kind, and returned to their naturally joyful state.

AWE IS WORKING! I thought. The theory we’ve been testing and refining for three years in small groups, schools, and larger pilot projects extending all the way to the heart of America near the Mississippi River, is showing us, again and again – this is how to make the larger “peace shifts” our society needs now. To live in harmony.

By believing that we could give kids the holistic tools to help them thrive and solve many of the problems that result in school shootings, suicides, and crime, we have come to this moment of truth.

The influence of mindful movement, artmaking, peacepainting, good mentors, creativity, and kindness can never be erased. They help our youth to embody self-awareness, self-care, and self-respect, which leads to caring for others, Nature, and the larger communities we inhabit.

It dazzles the mind in its simplicity and the powerful impact it is having.

Plus, the amazing art that is coming forth is a testament to the transformations these kids are making, not only in Hawaii but also in Utah where last week, Peace Arts Guide Lara Printz started the first-ever AWE program at the Soaring Wings Montessori School near the Canyonlands. This adds to the extraordinary work spearheaded by AWE’s Development Deva Susan Minor in an Illinois Public School with 130 more students last May.

It warms my heart, but more importantly, artmaking together with “kindness dialogues” are helping to manifest world peace.
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The last week of our two-month AWE art intensive at Kealakehe is coming up fast. We’ve seen remarkable “peace shifts” in even the most hostile and angry students.

But we need your help. We are planning a celebratory exhibit called Peace on Earth that will feature the 30 new Pace Banners made by Kealakehe students that will later be sent to Ukraine in a touching act of kindness and child-to-child peacemaking. We are busy preparing and organizing those events.

We would also like to expand the program and bring many more “peace shifts” into schools and groups both in Hawaii and on the Mainland. We are still trying to cover expenses for the Kealakehe School program and to do the outreach and grant writing necessary for continuing this work, your contributions make a world of difference.

Please join us in this sacred circle, our Moonshot movement, peacemaking through art, by Watching our 90-second AWE Vision Video here — ArtWavEs Purpose Video

Please support ArtWavEs’ work here —- Donate to ArtWavEs Peacemaking-through-Art Mission

It means a lot to me, to you, to all of us!

Mahalo nui loa,


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