YMCA Calgary recognizes local peacemakers

CALGARY, Nov. 18 /CNW/ - Peacemakers from the Calgary area were recognized today at the 2009 YMCA Calgary Peace Medals luncheon. Medals were awarded to eight groups and individuals for their work to bring peace to their communities locally and around the world.

"Calgary is known as a city where people make an extra effort to help those in need," said Helene Weir, YMCA Calgary President and CEO. "The 2009 Peace Medal recipients inspire us all to think about how we can contribute to a community that values peace at home and in the world around us."

This year's recipients were chosen from 39 nominees. YMCA Calgary celebrates YMCA World Peace Week each November. The theme, "Inspire peace...think it, say it, do it" recognizes the ability everyone has to make a positive difference.

    The 2009 YMCA Calgary Peace Medal recipients are:

Community Peace Initiatives - Individual Award: Jean Johnson

Jean Johnson is the principal of Piitoayis Family School, a Calgary Board of Education school based on aboriginal culture and values.

By reaching out to students and families, Jean has transformed the school from a place where bullying and talk of suicide were common to a positive, peaceful learning environment.

Community Peace Initiatives - Group Award: The Calgary Board of Education's Aboriginal Diversity and Learning Support Advisors

This team works with families, schools, and children to build capacity for aboriginal students in schools.

The team helps aboriginal students and their families feel valued. They provide one-on-one support and access to elders and cultural instructors. They also assist teachers and administrators with aboriginal content and help teachers and students practice the traditional Peacemaking Circle.

Community Peace Initiatives - Youth Award: The Bishop O'Byrne High School Leadership Class

Bishop O'Byrne's Leadership class is a for-credit class that allows students in Grades 10 to 12 focus on service projects, volunteering and international aid.

The class completes several projects throughout the school year, including feeding Calgary's homeless and supporting international projects through donations of money and goods like water filters, fuel efficient stoves, and toys for children.

International Peace Initiatives - Individual Award: Tiffany Fontaine

After a three-month trip to Mozambique when she was 19, Tiffany founded the Fontaine Children's Charity, which helps get that country's young boys off the streets.

Tiffany raises money to support a local program that gives boys as young as four a safe place to go, nutritious meals, medical attention, and a taste of a different future.

International Peace Initiatives - Group Award: Operation Eyesight Universal

Operation Eyesight Universal has helped restore sight to over 35 million people worldwide.

This Calgary-based charity provides sight-saving medication and surgery to some of the world's poorest people. It also creates locally-sustainable services so that communities can continue to help themselves.

International Peace Initiatives - Youth Award: Sheena Parris

Sheena Parris, a Grade 12 student at Centennial High School, is active in several peace and social justice initiatives.

Sheena organized "Oath of Silence," an event that helped students contemplate the world's forgotten children and the tragedy of child soldiers in Uganda. She is also the founder of Student Voice, a platform for positive and open communication between students, parents, and teachers.

YMCA Calgary Staff Award: Judi Rich

Judi Rich is a member of the Brahma Kumaris, an international group dedicated to the study and embodiment of peace.

Judi has dedicated herself to becoming a more peaceful person and in so doing, shares her demeanor with all those who come in contact with her. Judi has been a peaceful, joyful presence at YMCA Calgary for 15 years.

Humanitarian Award: Dr. Chris Brooks

Dr. Chris Brooks has been practicing medicine in Malawi for over eleven years. When first arrived in the country, there were only a handful of people with medical training and in some areas, no access to medicines. On his first trip out to a rural area, Dr. Brooks set up a clinic under a tree and saw 370 patients.

Dr. Brooks went on to found Lifeline Malawi, a health-focused charity. He has established two full-time medical clinics that provide health care for over 150,000 Malawians and employ 100 local people.

    About YMCA Calgary

YMCA Calgary is a charitable organization dedicated to serving the community through a variety of programs and services for people of all ages and abilities. For more than 100 years, hundreds of thousands of Calgarians have been involved in YMCA Calgary through community programs, health, fitness and recreation, and education and personal development opportunities. The YMCA looks forward to another century of community involvement, continuing its legacy of building strong kids, strong families and strong communities. For more information about YMCA Calgary, visit ymcacalgary.org.


For further information: For further information: Thalia McRae, Communications Manager, YMCA, Calgary, Phone: (403) 852-9168

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