PPI-NI International Fellow Nasiphi Khafu from South Africa interviews Lauren Bracken and asks her what International Peace Day means to her.
Lauren is a graduate of PPI-NI’s Cross Community League and is now an active participant in PPI-NI’s Champions4Peace programme. Lauren has also just started working with PeacePlayers as a coach in training who’s supporting PPI-NI’s work with younger participants.
NK: Lauren, tell me a little bit about yourself.
“My name is Lauren Bracken, I am a student at Workforce Training Centre and I study childcare. I started my
involvement with PeacePlayers International- Northern Ireland 8 years ago, when I was 11 years old.
NK: Lauren why did you want to get involved with PeacePlayers?
I chose to be part of PeacePlayers because I looked up to the people who coached me when I was younger and always thought it would be fun to be a PeacePlayers coach one day. PeacePlayers has thought me that everyone is equal regardless of their differences and I’ve become more open minded to those around me.
NK: What does international Peace Day mean to you?
International Peace Day to me means a day for everyone to put aside their differences and get along with one another. To contribute to peace in Northern Ireland, I joined PeacePlayers in order to give back and promote the organization in my community. I would love to see more organizations in Northern Ireland creating more peace by bringing Protestants and Catholics together just like PeacePlayers.
International Day of Peace is annually celebrated around the world on the 21st of September and marked its 30th anniversary this year. The theme of this year’s Day of Peace was the “Right of Peoples to Peace”. In recognition of International Day of Peace this past weekend served as part of PPI-NI’s ongoing coaches training programme, where we played one of our favorite games at PeacePlayers – “Body Shapes”. After having spent some time with our coaches going over our curricula for the year and making sure they are ready for the Twinning and Belfast Interface League (BIL) Programmes, we felt inspired to create some human art. We made a “basketball” and a “peace sign” with our bodies.
We were delighted and privileged to be joined by some Junior Champions4Peace (C4P). The training as well as the
celebration of the International Day of Peace provided us with an opportunity to show them what they can become while allowing them to be inspired by our senior C4P’s and coaches like Lauren. The senior coaches really enjoyed having these future leaders around. They were more than willing to share with them their experiences at PeacePlayers and to show them how things are done.
Hearing everything that Lauren had to say has reminded me of my three heroes; Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi. Each of these inspirational leaders contributed and dedicated their lives to peace building. There is so much being done by various organizations to build peace in Northern Ireland, and after my first few short months here, I can already sense that there is definitively hope for a more peaceful future for Northern Ireland. I am convinced the young people that we work with will have an important contribution to making this place even better.
Lauren along with her friends, peers, and colleagues at PeacePlayers are doing what Mahatma Gandhi said; “To be the change you want to see in the world”.