Youth take over Caernarfon for ‘Peace in Action’

Today, Friday October 21st , sees an ambitious and dynamic ‘Wales for Peace’ WW1 Schools conference come to Caernarfon – run by young people as part of their Welsh Baccalaureate studies – in the runup to Remembrance Day 2017.

Coinciding with the Poppies: Weeping Window display in Caernarfon Castle, the ‘Peace in Action’ conference at Galeri is part of the Remembering for Peace programme of events organised by the Welsh Centre for International Affairs, working with Gwynedd partner organisations and financially supported by the National Assembly for Wales and European Commission in Wales.

Over 180 young people will be participating from as far afield as Cardiff, with interactive skills building sessions designed and led by year 11 students from Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen in Caernarfon exploring themes around the impact of war on Welsh communities, how people have contributed to the search for peace in the 100 years since WW1, and conflicts of concern to young people today and for future generations.

Catrin Lewis, teacher at Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen, said “this conference is the culmination of a huge amount of work put in by our baccalaureate students over recent months. It’s really exciting to have such a high profile opportunity to put their skills into practice – and I know they will be absolutely inspiring. We’re all looking forward to Peace in Action.”

80 young people will deliver peer training sessions and peace presentations in Y Galeri that they have worked on in teams over recent weeks, using QR codes (mobile phone digital links) to work in groups, receive challenges, and work together on creative responses to each others’ projects. These will be gathered together on the Wales for Peace learning portal and shared with schools Wales-wide to inspire others. WCIA’s ‘Remembering for Peace’ WW1 curriculum resource pack for Key Stages 2-4 will be piloted at the conference, and participants’ inputs will be built in to the final publication – to be made available to schools Wales-wide from November 2017.

100 young people will take on Caernarfon Castle and the newly launched Caernarfon Peace Trail around the town, learning about Gwynedd’s peace heritage, how to do visitor tours and craft workshops, and then delivering a tour or craft workshop themselves – and creating their own ‘weeping window’ to display in Caernarfon Castle’s marquee to the estimated 100,000 visitors expected over the month ahead.

Following the ‘test run’ by the young people attending, the new Peace Trail App for smartphones will be available to the public from the beginning of half term next week, free to download from the Apple and Android online stores. The app encourages Poppies visitors and community members alike to explore Caernarfon through ‘hidden history’ landmarks and inspiring stories of peace builders from the last 100 years -  exploring topics as diverse as Soldiers Stories, David Lloyd George, Belgian Refugees, Conscientious Objectors, the Women’s Peace Pilgrimage of 1926, and the Urdd’s International Youth Message of Peace and Goodwill from 1922 to today.

Craig Owen, Head of the Wales for Peace project at the Welsh Centre for International Affairs, said “the Poppies in Caernarfon Castle and our Remembering for Peace programme are proving a catalyst for some incredibly moving responses to Remembrance as we mark the centenary of WW1. On the 21st, we also remember the 50th anniversary of Aberfan; both are deeply engrained on the Welsh psyche as marking the loss of a generation.

Both tragedies moved a generation that followed to strive for peace and justice; and whilst today’s issues may be different, the fire and desire among young people to play a peace building role in the world for future generations – be it on Syria, the Refugee Crisis, post-Brexit European Relations, radicalisation, or Trump - is greater than ever.

By learning from Wales’ peace heritage of the last 100 years, they can inspire future generations to shape Wales’ role in the world for the next 100. Young people are almost unquestionably united in their drive to build a better future free from conflict – and so in coming up with our ‘Wales for Peace’ conference this year, it was a no-brainer that we should pass the gauntlet over to young people themselves to lead it. It will be challenging, and amazing.”



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