For two decades, the Interfaith Council of Franklin County and Traprock Center for Peace & Justice have honored teens from Franklin County for social justice accomplishments in their schools, churches or wider community. Often students have addressed the concerns of the time.
See more on the Awards here.
In 2020 the concerns and actions taken were many and relevant, but the traditional May timing met with Covid-19 restrictions and caution. Thus no special evening event was possible, as in years passed, when the students were honored with music and many friends and supporters at Greenfield Community College.
Still, the meaning of the Awards is as important this year as ever. Congratulations to the 14 young men and women honored this year.
See press report with photos: https://www.recorder.com/2020-Peacemaker-Awards-34584986
Young Peacemaker Award Recipients, 2020
Acadia (Cady) Black
Sixteen-year-old Cady Black from New Salem is a home schooled and dual-enrollment Greenfield Community College student. This year she served on the planning committee for GCC’s January celebration of Rev. M.L. King Jr. and designed a youth workshop on Climate Change for the event. She has been involved with the social justice Journey Camp as a camper since she was seven and as a manager in the summer of 2019. Cady has great integrity, inspiring people of all ages. Last year, she initiated and led a series of Deep Topic choices at Journey Camp, and was chosen by Traprock to be a Peace Fellow for 2019-2020.
Sunrise Movement activists Solomon Chase, Ruby Chase, Haven Vincent-Warner, Claire Grunberg, Reilly Osborne, and Aislyn Jewett
The Sunrise Movement is youth-led political movement made up of young people who see the many ways climate disruption affects all people. These students at the Academy at Charlemont used their leadership, passion, commitment and thoughtfulness to plan and attend protests in Boston and elsewhere regarding the climate crisis; to hold a school teach-in to educate their school community on the science behind climate change, and to have discussions on climate justice that included marginalized groups. They have also established Sunrise Hubs in other towns.
Skylar Craig, Four Rivers Charter School
This winter Skylar and Gabriella Vacarelo, a support counselor at the Community Center for Resilience After Trauma, co-facilitated a weekly teen support group named the Peer Support and Mental Health Education Club. Each week Skylar would research a topic to teach the group and they would share their own experience or interpretation of the topic. Skylar says, “I feel that mental health education is essential to kids. I value discussing coping skills and preparedness for potential mental health issues or crises not only for yourself but for family and friends. I wanted to create a group I could have used as a younger student.”
Siobhan Davis, Mahar Regional School
Siobhan is a Training Active By-standers Trainer in her school, teaching and modeling mediation skills to younger students. She served as the Ambassador of Orange for Project 351, a youth community organization, and encouraged peers to donate clothes to families in need. She worked as an intern for State Representative Susannah Whipps. Exploring topics of diversity, equality, advocacy in the Craft Your Own Life program at Seeds of Solidarity, she applied what she learned to her school and community service work.
Maya Laur, Deerfield Academy
Maya is dedicated to spreading peace, promoting empathy and understanding, and informing others on creating a more just community. After visiting the U.S-Mexican border in Arizona and working with asylum seekers in San Antonio, Maya discovered her activist-calling of fighting for immigrant rights. She has co-hosted a Deerfield forum, spoken alongside immigrants at a pro-immigration rally, written essays and spoken about the crisis on WHMP-radio. Her immigration curriculum is being used by a Spanish teacher at Deerfield Academy.
Ella McDaniel, Reyna Ortiz, and Gracelyn Tatta, Our Lady of Peace Church
As part of their confirmation class, Ella, Reyna and Gracelyn collected and donated books for inmates at the Franklin County jail. In researching their project, they learned that recidivism rates fall significantly with more education and training and that the library needed new or gently used books. They organized ten drop off locations, made collection boxes, publicized the project through the Recorder, WHAI, and recruited help from the Greenfield High School Student Council and Key Club and other youth at their church, Our Lady of Peace. They sorted and donated over 2000 books to the correctional facility’s library. They found a creative and practical way to address a problem and demonstrated that the community cares.
Fifteen-year-old Mason Wicks-Lim has been homeschooled and has taken a couple of classes at GCC through dual enrollment. Mason has undertaken projects and activities for peace and justice as well as working towards racial justice and diversity. He’s always been willing to speak truth to power and to share his vulnerability to help others to feel less vulnerable. Last year he traveled with family to Homestead, Florida and made a nineteen-minute documentary (YouTube: Homes Instead) about migrant children being held there in a for-profit detention center. The film was selected for the Boston International Youth Film Festival, and he has shown it locally. Mason wants to use his art through photography and film “to move people to act.”
Congratulations to the Peacemakers!
Thanks to all those who nominated these young people for this well-deserved recognition, to their families who guide and encourage them and to the wider community for supporting and congratulating them.
Please be on the lookout for deserving young people to be nominated next year for the 21st Annual Peacemaker Awards.