The Ottawa Catholic District School Board knows its students are worth celebrating.

Over two days in May, 600 elementary school students from across the board congregated for  the 23rd Annual Peace Festival  at St. Joseph High School and St.Pius X High School in Ottawa. Up to 20 kids from each school in Grades 4, 5 and 6, who are  involved in programs that promote  inclusion and conflict resolution, were invited for activities and reflection.

“We strive to have our younger students inspired to help build a society where it is  easier for people to be good,  highlighting student-led acts of kindness, showcasing  their talents and leadership,” Organizer Luce Paradis said on the  board’s blog.

Each year, about six students speak in the opening of the conference about how they worked to  better their community that year. They share their experiences in raising money for cancer research, donating hair for patient wigs or spending time with Canada’s veterans.

“When kids come in they’re just really pumped up. There’s a positive vibe in the room,” said Bill Barrett, the co-chair of the Peace Festival Committee.

The students rotate through lunch, games and crafts stations throughout the day, giving them, “a chance to reflect on what they’d done that year to make their school a more inclusive place, a more peaceful place,” said Barrett.

The festival began as an initiative within individual schools to address conflicts, but now includes students who have excelled in promoting charity and inclusivity. With the board’s help and support, it’s become a project enjoyed by the broader school community.

When our kids use their values to inspire a better world, it’s certainly something to celebrate. Help us continue our work by sharing this story.

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