Each year International Day of Peace is observed around the world on September 21, which the United Nations General Assembly declared as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. Established in 1981 by unanimous United Nations resolution 36/37, the General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to "commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples." This year's theme is "The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace."
"Love and respect for others are true power in the hearts of people who know the true sense of humanity," stated Tomoko Torii, President, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Southeastern Pennsylvania based non-profit, Harmony For Peace Foundation.
"We look forward to having you all at the concert," she said gleefully.
Through youth and adult music performances promoting a message for "Peace One Day" and "harnessing the power of music to call to end conflict and violence," Harmony For Peace promotes cross-cultural understanding through the arts by serving as a bridge among nations to promote mutual respect, and a common path to world peace.
Throughout the Greater Philadelphia region, several organizations will commemorate Peace Day and provide platforms for individuals and organizations to a share a date for all humanity to commit to peace above all differences, and to contribute to building a culture of peace.
Peace Day Philly, founded by a small group of individuals and organizational representatives in 2011 as a grassroots initiative, is a leading organization in the nation's first World Heritage City. Focused on building positive peace and creating the conditions for peace, unity and justice through diverse and collaborative activities, Peace Day Philly serves as a hub for providing information on Peace Day activities that include dialogue, skill and resiliency-building, creativity, mindfulness and citizenship.
Peace Day Philly's Founder Lisa Parker, a mother and social worker by training, was inspired by the idea of a global day of peace and what that could mean in her home town, Philadelphia.
"Whereas conflict resolution and transformation, mediation, mindfulness training and many other skill-based aspects of peace education, as well as intercultural dialogue and other forms of diversity and global awareness activities, are critical to the development of peacecbuilding skills and global citizenship among children and youth," states a 2015 Pennsylvania State Senate resolution presented by State Senator Larry Farnese.
"The Senate encourages and commends all residents of the Commonwealth who actively promote and participate in diverse peace, nonviolence and unity-building activities in observance of the International Day of Peace."
This year more than 30 organizations have pledged their support of Peace Day Philly. A sample of those organizations include Arcadia University International Peace and Conflict Resolution Program, the Bhutanese American Association of Philadelphia (BAOP), Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia, Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center, Harmony For Peace Foundation, Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation, Parkway NW High School for Peace and Justice, Philadelphia Ethical Society, The Peace Center and the United Nations Association of Greater Philadelphia.
People in cities like Philadelphia, as well as communities and villages worldwide have engaged in International Day of Peace in diverse and meaningful ways. Peace Day Philly has served to encourage people to get involved in a variety of ways, specifically in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
"The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are our shared vision of humanity and a social contract between the world's leaders and the people," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "They are a to-do list for people and planet, and a blueprint for success."
On September 16, from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., the Secretary-General will celebrate the Day in the Peace Garden at United Nations Headquarters by ringing the Peace Bell and observing a minute of silence. Women Nobel Peace Prize laureates and the United Nations Messengers of Peace will participate in the ceremony while the United Nations Education Outreach Section will hold a global student videoconference, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., also at United Nations Headquarters.
In partnership with Flocabulary, the Education Outreach Section of the Outreach Division of the United Nations Department of Public Information has produced a hip hop music video, "Sustainable Development Goals: Improve Life All Around The Globe." Aimed to teach young people throughout the world about the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals and how they can help build peace, the video is an example how peace initiatives incorporate various methods to get the message across.
"Through performances, exhibitions, events, and advocacy we stand for a united voice of reason against nuclear proliferation across the globe," said Torii. Like Flocabulary, the Harmony for Peace Foundation aims to inspire harmony among faiths, and groups divided by creeds and political leanings using art as an equalizer.
"Sport empowers youth, promotes good health and deepens UN values such as equality, mutual respect and fair play," Ban Ki-moon said in a statement. "Sport helps us in spreading messages of peace, driving social change. I urge all global citizens to join this growing movement and become part of our team to harness the power of sport to build a better world for all."
Several organizations throughout the Philadelphia area have utilized sport to commemorate International Day of Peace. Inspired by the One Day One Goal initiative, which has brought people together since its launch in 2008 with thousands of soccer matches being played worldwide on Peace Day, the Soccer Day of Peace and Play follows the tradition of using sport to drive change. Held in partnership with the United Nations Association of Greater Philadelphia and Multicultural United Soccer Club, the second year of the friendly play features more than 150 youth from programs throughout the Philadelphia region and Southern New Jersey.
Kicking off this year's Peace Day Philly festivities with a drum circle, vinyasa yoga and meditation will be the YOGA for PEACE event. Led by Sarah Murphy of Transformative Therapy, Lead Organizer of YOGA for PEACE, Murphy believes "there is no other way to peace in the world; the journey must start with peace in our own hearts."
"For its many followers, the practice of yoga is surely a path to inner peace," she said. "On our mats we learn to quiet our minds and to distance ourselves from the contents of our thoughts. As we become more detached from our thoughts we become more peaceful within ourselves, in our relationships, and in our daily activities."
From education to the arts, social justice to sports, health to the environment, neighborhood issues to service for others, there are many ways to participate in Peace Day.
"I look forward to continuing the tradition of Peace Day Philly," said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. "Events like these that encourage open dialogue and community engagement help us to not only celebrate our differences, but also realize our many similarities."
To purchase a ticket to Harmony for Peace Foundation's 4th Annual Peace Concert at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, visit www.harmonyforpeace.org. For details on other Peace Day events throughout the Philadelphia region, visit www.peacedayphilly.org.