United States 13 July: Chicago, Illinois
Skillful Children, Exciting Programs for Peace
The day started with a parade to the James(Major) Adams Community Committee, a community center dedicated to the communiity service of James Adams who they refer to as Major Adams. He served the Chicago communities for many decades offering the youth many opportunities for a healthier and safer lifestyle.
The parade had many exciting elements to it in the way of children marching with colorful country flags, flag twirlers and dancers, musicians and incredible rifle twirlers.
Pradhan, our local coordinator and host here in Chicago enjoyed the parade both as a marcher and spectator.
We offered children the opportnity to carry the peace torch which they did with cheerful enthusiasm.
The South Shore drill Team joined us as they did yesterday to dazzle us with they skill and precision.
The Hornets, a Major Adams Drum and Bugle Corps, kept us marching to a steady beat with their dynamism and skill.
You really have to see a video of the rifle twirling from the South SHore Drill Team to realise how amazingly skilled and athletic they were.
At the end of the parade we held a ceremony outside the Major Adams building. The sign reads 'We Are Major Adams.'
The Peace Run was introduced nekxt to the Sri Chinmoy Peace Tree which was planted here and dedicated to James Major Adams on July 20, 2016.
We offered our guessing game and songs to the crowd after our Torch Bearer Awards and passed the Torch around for everyone to offer their wishes and prayers for peace.
After our own initroductions and Peacr Run song we offered the Peace Run Torch-Bearer Award to some of our distinguished guests who have helped this community to grow and become a safer place for the youth and adults.
Mia Walker, Jawaan Edwards and their brother Reginald Edwards accept the Torch Bearer Award on behalf of their father, the late Boyse Edwards. Mr, Edwards was a tireless and dedicated server of the youth against non-violence since his teenage years until his passing two years ago.
Another recipient of the Torch Bearer Award is Renee Menadove who has worked many years for the youth department of Major Adams Academy.
Mark Tritschler of McShane Construction Company, receives the Torch Bearer Award for his work with employing young workers, train them and keep them employed in steady skilled construction jobs. His committment to bringing about peace amongst gang members in the community will resonate for years to come.
La Vonas Troupe gets the Torch Bearer Award for his work at the Major Adams Community Committee as operations manager. He also has been helping the youth to find jobs which helps in avoiding gangs and social violence.
Some of the Major Adams dance troupe offered some great dance routines for us after the program also.
Robert House, motivational speaker and youth service worker has also worked for the elderly assistance programs in the Austin Community.
Ken Butler holds a colorful print by Sri Chinmoy, Founder of the Peace Run, on the theme of World Harmony. We also offered our Certificate of Appreciation signed by all of our runners with their country names as well. We are very grateful to everyone from the Major Adams Community for their energetic and dedicated work for peace and friendship in Chicago.
We were treated to lunch at the Victory's Banner Restaurant, formerly owned by Pradhan, our host and generous friend who helped to pay for all of our meals.
As we waited for the runners to arrive at Hamlin park in North Central Chicago Arpan talks with some of the children about the Peace Run and why we are running here to their park.
The bright smiles of the children as they share the Peace Torch and share wishes for peace makes our whole trip worthwhile.
When young children like this put all this effort into thinking and expressing world peace it gives us hope and confidence that the world will truly be much more peaceful someday.
The children voted between two trees in the park to pick as a Peace Tree. This small tree won overwhelmingly over a much larger tree nearby.
The Peace Tree represents and reminds us of the self-giving qualities such as shade, fruit, beauty and patience. Our team here represents a great variety of countries and cultures just as trees come i many different shapes and forms.
Before this last ceremony of the day we started out with a brief meeting with some of our local coordinators. We usually never have access to a conference room and the fact that it was air-conditioned on a very hot day in Chicago was a real boon that we took advantage of.
Drennon Jones , Park Supervisor, and Ms. Bean with her daughter Meghan, who had her 7th birthday today. We sang her the birthday song as she held the Peace Torch and made a wish for peace.
Having the children guess where we are from in our international team of 12 runners from 8 different counttries.
The children love to do the actions to our World Harmony Run song written by Sri Chinmoy, Founder of the Peace Run.
Feeling peace in the heart and imagining this and other good qualities spreading all around us is the first step to spreading peace in the world.
A few funny skits illustrate either peaceful or non-peaceful behavior which the children have to judge for themselves.
Beatrice Harris, President of the LAC, Drennon Jones, Park Supervisor at Wentworth Gardens, and Carmen Benson, Vice President of the LAC, receiving the painting called 'Peace is Precious' by Sri Chinmoy and our Certificate of Appreciation. Their team work here at Wentworth Gardens has transformed this area into a very desirable place to live and to encourage youth to be cooperative, peaceful and creative.
Sukantika, our main coordinator here in Chicago, helped to make all of these wonderful events over the last two days possible. She has established imimportant and lasting connections to the many community organizations in some of the neighborhoods who have embraced us and welcomed us with open hearts.
Arpan plays the World Harmony Run song as the children read the words on our Peace Run cards and sing along.
Beatrice Harris and her two daughters, Vickie Harris and Sandra Collins, who volunteer at City Hall and other community buildings to help their mom in her work for improving the various communities including Wentworth Gardens.
Reading the plaque at the Sri Chinmoy Peace Tree here in front of the Wentworth Gardens office building and recreation area.
We are very grateful to Vice President Carmen Benson and Park Supervisor Drennon Jones for their work at the Wentworth Gardens Community housing and recreation center.
In the evening we had a wonderful meal provided by our local coordinators, runners and friends. We are so grateful to them for all their efforts and self-giving over the last few days and for weeks before we came as well, preparing for our arrival and arranging all of our events.
Some of the members of our team received gifts of gratitude as they had to leave for home from Chicago.