Yesterday was Earth Day, a day to celebrate the wonders of our earth, as well as our united efforts to care for our world. This movement is so important to Play for Peace that for us the celebration lasts an entire week! Each year, our clubs come together through acts of compassion and collaborative activities aimed at caring for the earth. It’s an inspirational week focused on a mission that unites us all.
This week, since the coronavirus and social distancing have made it difficult for our clubs to physically observe together, we’re taking a look back at past Earth Week celebrations to remind us of the amazing ways our clubs can—and will continue to—make our world a better place.
In 2016, we collaborated with Compassion Games International for a week-long celebration themed “Love This Place, Serve the Earth.” More than 1,000 people on 100+ teams around the world took part in unbelievably creative and heartfelt acts of compassion in honor of the earth and its living beings. With over 30 registered teams from India, Vietnam, the Philippines, the United States, Guatemala, and South Sudan, Play for Peace clubs worked together to teach their communities about the earth and ways to care for it. Children and youth began experiencing a connection to the earth and were inspired to contribute something to their surroundings. From children in one area who saw trees for the first time and learned about ecosystems, to others who learned about the hazards of using plastic, our community began to understand how they can make a difference.
In 2017, we collaborated once again with Compassion Games International to celebrate Earth Week. With the theme “Water is Life, Protect the Sacred,” 11 of our clubs organized games and more events around how water is an everyday need for living, and how we can care for the earth by conserving water. Some of the ways discussed were: conserving water while brushing our teeth, taking baths instead of showering so we don’t waste water, and saving water for others instead of throwing it out when we are done drinking.
In 2018, our Earth Week efforts focused on celebrating and saving our planet in the face of many challenging events. In Delhi, India, Play for Peace volunteers helped out in a Rohingyas shelter after a disastrous fire. Our youth leaders worked with the children there, teaching them to share, learn, and practice compassion, even in the wake of natural disasters on our planet. Another Play for Peace team in Mumbai worked with local women and children living in shelters and in need of care and protection. Our club organized play sessions around celebrating our earth, using various tools to create a space for trust and mutual sharing, such as ice breaker games, drama, visual art. Some of the sessions included, “Let’s hug the tree,” “Tree plantation,” “Paper mache with children,” and “An awareness trip to a Garbage Museum.”
Last April, 18 clubs in nine countries celebrated Earth Week by taking part in a Play for Peace Global Games aimed at demonstrating acts of kindness and care for the Earth. Working with more than 700 children over the course of the week, our clubs explored what it means to be a leader when you feel connected to the earth. Some of the sessions included:
In India, the Jagran Club had children use their imaginations to paint how they wanted to see Mother Earth. Many painted scenes filled with flowers, greenery and animals. Other groups drew playgrounds in their worlds because there are none nearby.
Our club in Nepal, the Nepal Friendship Society, conducted a four-hour tree planting session with 25 youth, creating an awareness for taking action and caring for the earth. The group discussed recycling more, using less, and leading by example. Other ideas for caring for the earth were using public transportation and biking more and using less plastic—using reusable water bottles and shopping bags, as well as paper straws for drinking.
The Play for Peace Mexico club played with nature and engaged in activities and discussions about seeds, soil, and water. Participants discussed how to protect, save, and care for the earth and also observed the surrounding nature and animals.
As a result of our Earth Week efforts over the years, Play for Peace clubs and community members around the world have been inspired to put ideas into practice in order to save our earth efforts to conserve water and recycle to planting trees and cleaning up our planet. While our community might be separated this year, we can still do our part as individuals to care for the earth—together.