The Peace Run's first appointment was at St. Mary's Primary School in Swan Hill. About 100 students gave us the Guard of Honour welcome with high fives as we ran into the gym.
There were about 400 more students cheering as we entered the gym.
The Mayor of Swan Hill, Cr. Les McPhee, attended the ceremony.
Mayor McPhee welcomed the team to Swan Hill and was happy to receive the torch on behalf of the shire, and expressed how anything that promotes Peace is a good thing. They have over 50 different nationalities in their community.
The plaque was then handed over to Mayor McPhee, representing the community. This will be placed in the park in Robinvale for people to pause for a moment of quiet reflection. This council is the third council along the Murray to place a Sri Chinmoy Peace-Blossom Plaque along the river. This plaque is different to the others as the community of the Swan Hill Shire created the wording. Thoughts about peace and the significance of the Murray as part of their lives were submitted to Gayle Farnsworth, and from these thoughts this plaque was created. It reads: ...
A SRI CHINMOY PEACE RIVER
“From streams that rage through mountain ranges to creeks that percolate through desert sands, this river, that is now one, is fed. Its oneness sustains our community, calms our collective mind, caresses our communal soul. Its quietness reflects our peace and its breadth reflects the enormity of our welcome. Just like this river, we are one.”
The students are challenged to guess which country each of our runners comes from.
These children were a great audience – alert and fully involved.
The students were eagerly waiting for us since last week and had prepared Peace Pledges for the occasion. Students who made those pledges took their turn to recite them, one by one.
Last Friday the Peace Pledges were read out at their Assembly, with their prayer of that day being for the Peace Run. Today we hear a handful of these pledges.
Many of them had this message at the top of the pledge:
"Start your day with a smile on your face, no matter what race.
God is a gift always with you, even in the challenges he puts you through.
War is bad and makes no one glad."
"Peace is a wonderful work, like the Mocking Jay Bird.
Pledge and Pray every day, even if it’s not going your way.
The world is a great place for every single race.”
Selection of pledges:
"Pledge to live a better life.
Love and respect all.
Enjoy and care for our environment.
Do acts of kindness.
Go out to play with a smile every day.
Evoke harmony in our world."
By: John Howison, Darcy Woodward and Jem Sibley
"Peace is a wonderful word.
Enjoy each and every day.
Always be kind.
Care for others
Everyone is your brother and sister.
I Pledge to appreciate our world. To care and respect creatures great and small. I pledge to live a better life and love one another.”
By Madison Davies
The School Captains came up to accept the Certificate of Appreciation for the school: (From right to left – Charlotte Rush, Harliai Curthoys-Davies, Sophie Tripleeta, Joshua Sutton and Sarah Rogers (who had kindly held the banner for us during the ceremony)
One of the teachers spoke next, saying that they were very privileged to have the Peace Run come and share this powerful message. She felt it wonderful that we are spreading and sharing it throughout the country, stating that this school valued the concept of the Peace Run and the need to feel Peace inside our hearts.
We all headed outside and each of the nearly 500 students were given the chance to hold the torch and make their wish or prayer for Peace, before the whole school ran with us around their oval a few times.
We then set off to our next engagement in Kerang. As the women’s team had run some way out of Swan Hill yesterday, we started from Lake Boga today.
With only 15 km to run for our small team, we needed a way to get rid of some of this excess energy from lower miles and decided to put in some 2 km sprints.
It was a lot of fun and we all were a little disappointed when we saw our finish point and piled into the car to make it to our next school.
Waiting for us at Kerang South Primary School was Angela Singlive who we had meet yesterday in Swan Hill. She was so inspired and uplifted by the Peace Run that she wanted to join us, found out our schedule and made her way to the school.
Angela quickly changed into uniform and ran into the school with us.
The students made a welcome sign that read ‘Kerang South Primary School Welcomes the Peace Run’ all held by the senior students of the school.
Pranava took the mic here and introduced the Peace Run to the students.
The students had created beautiful art work for peace.
The school Captains, Brontie and Joel, came to accept the Certificate of Appreciation for the school, with Harvey holding the torch.
We then went to the oval to hold the Torch and make our wish for peace before taking a lap around the oval.
Thank you very much Kerang South Primary for your enthusiasm.
We now had to make it to Barham Primary, 27 km away, but we had sent one team out before we arrived at Kerang School so we just had to drive to catch them.
No flame in the Torch again today, with a Total Fire Ban in effect.
Two runners, one truck.
Two runners, one police car.
The women’s team, now boosted by Angela, took to the road and ran the last 4 km into Barham Primary School.
Our third stop of the day was Barham Public School. We ran together into the ceremony onto a stage, in front of which all the kids were sitting.
We start by seeing how many children can guess which countries the various runners are from.
We were pleasantly surprised to find two hands shooting up each time a new team member came up to give clues to which country they came from. I went up to them afterwards to see how they knew most of our countries ...
... It turns out Laura has lived in Europe and Teesha has just learned about many different countries in the world. Well done to both of you for guessing so many correctly!
It was great to have Angela, another Aussie on the team. We enjoyed how long it took the children to guess Angela was from the mouth of the Murray, ‘Goolwa’.
It is always a treat to present a program with so many very happy and smiling faces looking at us.
Singing Sri Chinmoy's Peace Run song ...
... and World Harmony Run song, together with actions.
When asked where do we find peace inside ourselves, we had two answers today, and they both sounded correct to me: ...
... ‘heart’ ...
... and ‘soul’.
Maddie and Lauren accepted the Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of the school.
Everyone lined up outside to hold the Peace Torch ...
... including the teachers.
There is a beautiful glow that appears in every child's eyes when they see and then hold the Peace Torch and make their own wish.
We all gathered back under shelter for a final group photo ...
... and a fond farewell. The Relieving Principal, Sue Radywonik, thanked our multinational team for coming with the message that is so important in the world today – for this upcoming generation is the future. We left the school with the hope that they will do better work for peace than our generation has managed.
From Barham it was a quick 1 km to our final school for the day, Koondrook Primary School ...
... on the other side of the river, so of course in another State!
Our fourth and final school visit was with Koondrook Primary.
We met with local Councillor Oscar Aertssen and about 40 students. Councillor Aertssen accepted a Sri Chinmoy Peace River plaque on behalf of the Shire of Gannawarra, that will be installed on a new wharf that is planned to be built on the Murray River in Koondrook.
Councillor Aertssen commented that he had just been in Melbourne, and walking along the Yarra River the first plaque he had seen was a Sri Chinmoy Peace-Blossom plaque. He felt honoured that Koondrook would now have one too.
The Councillor felt that having the ceremony here at the school was so appropriate, for this is where the river is and the heart of the community, with the future leaders right here.
He called up the two youngest students to accept the plaque on behalf of the community. Cody Whittaker and Bobbie Dovthat accepted the plaque – well done Cody for holding it, as it is heavy!
Oscar told everyone there that he would be the custodian of this plaque until the redevelopment is complete; they had just received a grant of 2 million dollars for their wharf development. We look forward to our next journey along the Murray to see the plaque in its rightful place. Thank you Oscar, for looking after it so well until that moment.
We then spoke to the students about the Peace Run and introduced ourselves.
The children here were very young but very open and accepting to the idea of peace and harmony in their school.
We had some most creative answers to the question: where do we find peace in ourselves? Some suggestions being – our mouth or our tummy. Must admit when my tummy is full and happy, I am too!
After the program inside, we passed the torch around for the students to make a wish and then ran a few small loops behind the school.
Yes, the Peace Run is for Everyone!
Laura, Liam and Dakota accepted the Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of the school.
I overheard one of the teachers commenting how happy all the children looked and suggesting this would be something that would stay with them for a long time. I hope this is true, as these children will be staying with us for a long time too.