Kids Spread Sunshine and Peace

Written by Estero Bay News

February 16, 2024

The fourth and fifth grade Del Mar Peacekeepers known as Sunshine Spreaders making Peace Pickets

 

Photos and Story By Ruth Ann Angus

In November I had the great pleasure of meeting with the fourth and fifth grade Del Mar Peacekeepers known as Sunshine Spreaders. 

The group of thirteen students at Del Mar Elementary School in Morro Bay came about through the efforts of one student, Kira Johnson, who spearheaded an idea for a club that would make a difference in the world. Kira gathered a few friends together and introduced the idea and before you knew it, a whole new organization was formed. Sunshine Spreaders is totally kid driven and with the help of Susan Stephens, Counseling Aide running the Friend-to-Friend Program, is an aid to their classmates with positive peacebuilding projects. 


Some of the completed Peace Pickets.

I heard about the group when Principal Michael Wood contacted my Rotary Club in Morro Bay looking for some help. As Peacebuilder chairperson I was happy to hear about the new student council that had been formed and to find out that the school was interested in doing some peacebuilding projects in the community. I wanted to know what a Sunshine Spreader was and to find out if they would be interested in a fun project making Peace Pickets.

Sunshine Spreaders has a mission statement that says they are “dedicated to instilling a sense of social responsibility and to empower a lifelong commitment to service and support within their school community.” They are concerned with teamwork, inclusivity, and the values of empathy. And they intend to “strive to make the world a better place.” Stephens has filled an available classroom with all kinds of exciting and innovative things for these students to do and learn, and the group meets often to work on projects. 

I had a great talk with the kids as they ate their lunch that day, and we all decided that Peace Pickets was a great project for them to do. These pickets are made of wood and display an 8-inch heart with the peace symbol placed in the middle of the heart. This is then attached to a wooden garden stake about two feet high and can be placed in any garden or yard space. 

This project grew out of one an adult peace education group did through the organization Yes We Can Peacebuilders (YWCP) in Morro Bay which is a peace education organization I started in 2016. YWCP became a full nonprofit in June of 2022 after merging with the 22-year existing nonprofit People of Faith for Justice in San Luis Obispo.

Our plan for the Sunshine Spreaders was to ask for funds from Rotary to purchase the supplies and then have the students paint and decorate the Peace Pickets readying them for sale as a fundraiser to purchase garden-style Peace Poles. All of this took place in time for sales of the Peace Pickets to take place during the holiday season. Thirty peace pickets were completed and after being placed on display in the foyer of the school administration building, sales were brisk with all but six being sold before Christmas.

Folks may see these colorful Peace Pickets in yards around town in both Morro Bay and Los Osos. They offer a subtle message and that is, that we love peace, desire peace, and will work for peace. The Sunshine Spreaders want to change the world and understand that starting with their community is the best way to accomplish this. They plan to continue to make Peace Pickets and hope to have one in every yard in town. They are grateful to the Rotary Club of Morro Bay for their help with funding this effort.

I plan to continue to work with these great students on Peace Education projects and emphasize how important it is to continue to work for peace in our world. 

Readers interested in purchasing a Peace Picket should  visit the administration office at Del Mar Elementary School at 501 Sequoia Street, Morro Bay or email Susan Stephens at sstephens@slcusd.org  or email me at yeswecanpeacebuilders1@gmail.com. They are also available at Smoobage on the Embarcadero.

 

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