Australia 9 June: Canberra, ACT

Canberra schools

Because tomorrow is the start of a Long Weekend, today was the only opportunity for the Peace Run to visit schools in Canberra. The remaining distance yet to be covered from Bungendore into Canberra will be run tomorrow. Today the Peace Run was represented by two teams. The North Canberra team started the day at 9am at St Vincent's Primary School in Aranda.

The team was warmly welcomed by the principal Lina Vigliotta and the religious education coordinator, Luke Maher, before Danny introduced the team.

We were extremely grateful for the presence of ACT Legislative Assembly member, Elizabeth Kikkert (pictured outside after the program indoors), the Shadow Minister for Families, Youth and Community Services AND Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs. Mrs Kikkert, who herself hails originally from Tonga, shared a lovely story on the occasion of three students' birthdays.

The children sang the national anthem as well as their school song.

Stacey then went with K1 and K2 children and a torch outside into a smaller meeting area, where everyone made their wish for peace.

Several students had prepared some beautiful artwork for the occasion, which was projected onto the large screen during the proceedings.

Meanwhile, inside, Danny taught the older students the words and actions for the World Harmony Run song, composed by the founder of the Peace Run, Sri Chinmoy.

We played the country guessing game and had a moment of silence, led by Nurari.

Sienna and Escha, two school leaders, received a Certificate of Appreciation.

At the end everyone got to run with the Peace Torch around the school's enormous oval.

Luke Maher (far left, pictured with the other teachers involved in today's reception), a man of abundant goodness, did a superb job in organising this ceremony. His class learned the World Harmony Run Song and performed it in front of the whole school. Well done and thank you!

The team will long remember our thrilling and moving reception at St Vincent's Primary!

The South Canberra team started at St Mary MacKillop College, the largest school in Canberra, speaking to 2 classes of Year 10 students.

Our visit was coordinated by Michael Batten, the school's SOSE Coordinator.

These students understood with more depth the importance of peace compared to our Primary school audiences.

Together we reflected on the choices a person makes to either give to the world, or to only expect from the world.

Violet and Imogen received the Peace Run's Certificate of Appreciation.

Everyone joined in for a run around the oval with the Peace torch ...

... and a group photo.

Our team is happy to be reunited with Niribili from New Zealand, who had had to take a few days rest from running with a minor injury.

Next stop for our South Canberra team was St Benedict's Primary in Narrabundah.

Here we were met by children from Kindergarten to Year 6.

These students were very respectful listeners ...

... and enjoyed participating in the World Harmony Run song and our guessing games.

After making a wish for Peace with the Peace Torch ...

... everyone enthusiastically ran with Abhinandan and the torch.

These kids just loved holding the torch and did not want us to leave!

Sadly, the time has come for our team member Danny (Daniel Rubin, from South Africa via New Zealand) to leave the run and return home. He was not only a great runner but also a very supportive team member and most of all made us laugh on so many occasions. We will miss his humour and presence on the team.

The next school for our North Canberra team was St Thomas Aquinas School in Charnwood.

The children and teachers energetically welcomed us in their assembly hall where we sang the Peace Run song.

Younger students then joined the team in a run with the torch after the ceremony.

The final visit of the day in South Canberra was to Orana Steiner School ...

... where we knew our message would be well received.

Deputy Principal Kate Deeves introduced us.

The Year 5, 6, and 7 students were very quick to guess our team's countries, and enjoyed seeing the international dimension of the run in our video.

The leadership team of Poppi, Cleo, Barton, Fergus, Elouise, Elouisa, Dillon and Zoe all held the torch together when receiving the certificate for the school.

Everyone took part in a fast lap of the oval after holding the torch and wishing for peace.

We had some very keen offers to join our team and run with us to Adelaide but unfortunately Ben and others will have to wait a few more years!

The final visit of the day in North Canberra was to Rosary Primary in Watson. The children were listening very attentively to the team’s presentation.

Many students had learned the World Harmony Run song beforehand and sang it together with the peace runners.

They did a fantastic job!

The students had also prepared a great number of original artworks which were festooned about the hall ...

... all of which the Team has taken with us, to be included in an international display of Children’s Art for Peace around the Colosseum in Rome this September.

Everyone put their hands on their heart for a short meditation.

Leaders Leo and Elly held the torch and a Peace Run certificate.

The Principal, Vicky Van der Sandon warmly thanked the Peace Run team for their visit.

On the school’s sports field the torch was passed from hand to hand in a big circle.

All the staff gathered for a group photo.

The mood was exuberant.

Mia had her photo taken with the torch one week before her birthday.

The students spontaneously aligned themselves into a Guard of Honour to farewell the Team.

Thank you to Rosary Primary for yet another lovely and unforgettable experience!