Youth Peace Initiative is a project of the Sydney Peace Foundation which delivers peace education to NSW high school students via the face-to-face mentoring of social justice group leaders, video conferencing and online engagement, primarily via the website and facebook. YPI also disseminates information about online peace education resources to high school teachers via a monthly e-digest.
The foundation launched YPI in 2005 as the Schools Peace Initiative, endorsed by the NSW Department of Education and Training, and envisioned with the following objectives:
- To establish the leading initiative for high school students promoting the benefits of peace and social justice and the practice of non-violence.
- To create an initiative that allows young Australians to create, submit and be recognised for positive and tangible achievements in the attainment of peace in their schools and communities.
- To recognise significant community projects which have been achieved through the leadership, initiative and creativity of students throughout NSW, particularly students in diverse communities.
YPI seeks to engage young people in the process of peace with justice. YPI encourages young people to develop projects which make positive changes in their schools and communities, enabling young people to feel that their actions can make a difference. Original project ideas included student-created anti-bullying campaigns, student programs to increase dialogue with indigenous communities and inner city peace parks, each intended to improve equality, dialogue, cultural understanding and harmony.
Promoted initially by a series of volunteers, YPI’s first full-time position began in mid 2008. The project has always targeted high school and early tertiary-aged youth, however in 2009 the name was changed to ‘Youth Peace Initiative’ (or YPI) at the recommendation of young people already involved in the project and in order to be inclusive of out-of-school youth.
In keeping with Sydney Peace Foundation’s mission to foster understandings of peace with justice and the means to achieve it, YPI has become a means both to encourage and also to learn from the voices of Australian youth that speak out on issues relating to peace and social justice.
As a youth-centred, community development project, the primary goal of YPI goes beyond the promotion of critical literacy around peace with justice and nonviolence among youth. The goal is also to bring the experiences and insights of young people to bear on shaping the nature of that literacy.