Steward and UNICEF Give Hope to Children in Need on Whirled Peace Day

The Steward community donated funds to UNICEF to help and defend children living in countries in turmoil in honor of International Day of Peace.

UNICEF (the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund) is a United Nations program that works in 190 countries and territories to save children’s lives, defend their rights, and help them fulfill their potential. Our kind and generous community here at Steward made it possible to donate to UNICEF this year in honor of Whirled Peace Day and bring hope into the hearts and minds of children who live in some of the world’s toughest places.

On September 12, in advance of Whirled Peace Day, representatives from UNICEF at VCU came to visit Steward. President Priya Kundur and Communications Chair Amar Barik spoke to Lower, Middle, and Upper School students about the many ways in which they can make a big impact on the lives and potential of children just like them. Each student was sent home with a UNICEF donation box and a mission: to collect change for their box and bring it in on Whirled Peace Day, September 21.

After collecting donations and learning more about UNICEF’s work in their art classes, Steward students, parents, faculty, and staff gathered together on the morning of Friday, September 21 to celebrate our thirteenth annual Whirled Peace Day. Held in honor of the International Day of Peace, the school-wide celebration was centered on the “planting” of student-made pinwheels, decorated with colorful drawings and messages of peace. The Steward tradition was inspired by the Pinwheels for Peace project, which allows students to express their feelings about what’s going on in the world and in their lives.

“Each year on this day, the United Nations rings a Peace Bell to send a clear message that peace is precious,” said Lower and Middle School visual arts teacher Cindy Grissom, who coordinated the event with fellow visual arts teachers Lynn Zinder and Sejal Vaywala. “It is not enough to yearn for peace. Peace requires work.”

Two representatives from ReEstablish Richmond attended the ceremony as well, and spoke about their mission, which is to connect refugees to life-building tools and resources, helping their transition to be a positive and empowering experience.

“'As-salamu-alaykum' literally means ‘peace be with you,’” ReEstablish Richmond’s Executive Director Kate Ayers said of the Arabic greeting. “So from the beginning, when you first greet someone, you’re thinking about peace, and I think that is a beautiful thing.”

Ms. Ayers’s colleague Mohib Hafizi also spoke, telling the students about his experience as an interpreter for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.

“We helped people,” Mr. Hafizi said. “The Army, the Afghan people, the Afghan was all for peace. And I get to live here now on a VISA because of that work for peace.”

Before leaving, Ms. Ayers and Mr. Hafizi extended an invitation to the entire Steward community to attend their event Welcome Fest, a day celebrating diversity and supporting refugee communities in Richmond, which will take place on September 22 at the Bryan Innovation Lab.

“I want to thank you for your contributions to UNICEF, helping children all over the world and making it a better place for them,” Mrs. Zinder said.

The ceremony ended with the Upper School show choir leading the entire school in a moving rendition of Sara Bareilles’s “Brave” as the sun came out from behind the clouds.

If you still wish to donate to UNICEF through Steward, it's not too late. You may bring donations to Receptionist Maureen Beck at the front desk in Wilton Hall. We appreciate your generosity!

Click here to view photos from the celebration!





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