Rites of Passage for Peace Arts: EMTs of the Future

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Deciding it’s just another rite of passage does wonders for my mood. Realizing the heartbreak I feel from the news of violence, guns, poverty, and war doesn’t need to paralyze me.

I can keep breathing deeply, flowing in harmony with what is, a divine plan, an antediluvian way of learning through conflict, and not get caught up in the trauma dramas so many people do, like I used to. It felt awful to live in daily shock at the inhumanities, but then I realized — It’s just another rite of passage on our way to more harmony.

I said this to myself on a pristine morning in March when I showed up at Martha Denney’s house in Kealakekua. We were gathering volunteers for one of the thankless tasks in our mission to bring Peace Arts to every child through ArtWavEs. Ironing 15 × 60” silks onto freezer paper to hold the 33 silk banners that 130 Kealakehe Elementary School children are making was our job. Using their paintbrushes as magic wands, the keiki are learning to be centers of their own inner peace and to harmonize through color, song, and mindful movement to create a more sustainable and just world.


You see, Martha and I know the power that the arts have on human beings, and we believe in Peace Arts Guides like Susan Minor and Lara Printz, like the Art Mentors Kandie Kato and Bri Torres, and one of our Ambassadors of Aloha Ana Beth Webb – we believe that we have power, and together we can provide urgent assistance to calm the flames of a world on fire.

As luck would have it, we were the only two volunteers able to serve as “ironwomen” that morning, but it gave us a chance to chat and carry our vision forward. As we spritzed the wrinkled silk and ironed it before pulling strips of carpenter’s tape from thick blue rolls to stabilize the silks, Martha (featured in this photo at work on her own original Peace Flag) shared her experience as the former Director of International Education at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.

“It’s always been important to me to showcase the international and intercultural aspects of our community and educate students and community members about world cultures and issues,” she said. “We live in a global village and the more we know about each other, the more we can understand how to resolve conflict.”
A consultant in areas including gender analysis and international programs in higher education, Martha co-founded the Global Village Museum and Intercultural Resource Center in Fort Collins. Here in Hawaii, she was drawn to get involved with AWE because of her love of textiles and her fervor for fostering what she calls intercultural competence.”

“Getting children involved in the arts is such a fundamental way to help prepare them for the rapid changes we face,” she said. Kids have to internalize the feelings of peace and kindness in their hearts, and then they can function without bigotry, hate, and brutality.

Feeding children is more than an apple a day or school lunches – although that’s extremely important; but by inspiring a change of heart, we can help them make good decisions and stay healthy, not only in the body, but in the mind.

PAGs and EMTs

We foresee a time when Peace Arts Guides (PAGs) are accepted as professionals providing essential “peace care“ to children and families just as “trauma care” is now delivered by Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs).

While Jonathan Letterman, known as the “Father of Modern Battlefield Medicine,” devised a rustic system of mobile field hospitals during the American Civil War, we are not so far removed from the true beginnings of the organized delivery of prehospital emergency care by EMTs or paramedics. Paramedics and the use of ambulances were deemed important enough in preventing premature death for heart patients that in the 1960s, they started to be seen as essential to every community.

Our vision at ArtWavEs is similar to the one that guided pioneers like Letterman and Karl William Edmark, MD, a cardiovascular surgeon and lifelong inventor who was committed to improving outcomes for patients undergoing cardiac surgery. Edmark developed a defibrillator that was reliable and saved lives. Edmark’s invention, known as the Edmark Pulse Defibrillator, was first used to save the life of a 12-year-old girl in Seattle in 1961.

We can’t say for sure how many lives our Peace Arts Guides have saved so far, but we may soon have those statistics. Delivering life-saving skills in peacemaking and intentional creativity through community center classes, public school art intensives, and care packages, we are addressing the major need of our times.


We must learn to train our human minds and fragile hearts to love instead of hate. When we send a care package of art materials, digital teaching resources, and music and movement modules designed to support healthy maturation to communities in trauma, grief, or active conflict, we are saving lives by preventing violence and supporting new ways for children to learn cooperation, collaboration, and compassion.

I am thrilled that our service to children has brought me in closer touch with people like Martha, Ana, Maureen, Jaime, Kandie, and so many more Peace Arts pioneers. Our work is not yet done, but when we have Peace Arts Guides in schools all over the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and beyond, we may be getting close.

The example of EMTs in saving lives is a beautiful and powerful template, and I think Drs. Letterman and Edmark would smile on our humble effort to save lives through peacemaking arts. Who wouldn’t prefer attending an art exhibit of Peace Flags made by aspiring artists, instead of a funeral from another misguided act of violence?

Martha and I and all our volunteers prefer Peace Arts. If that’s true for you, please join our effort. We respectfully request donations, volunteers, and contacts to spread this work far and wide. It’s simple!

Here’s how:

WATCH this video from Pacific ArtWavEs and please SHARE WITH FRIENDS! ARTWAVES MISSION

GIVE your tax-deductible donation now, here: ARTWAVES SUPPORT

Through the AWE process, children come to understand the deeper connections that bond us all. AWEsome Art in its highest potential is practiced selflessly and you can be a part of it!

And if you want to bring an AWE workshop or AWE Care Package to your community, please get in touch with us now! We have program events scheduled in North Hawaii, South Kona, and Utah for this summer. Your support is essential to our continuing this work. Thank you so much for all you do!

Mahalo for your big heart!

Marya and the AWE Team at ArtWavEs
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