When Danielle was 12 years old, she witnessed the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks on America in 2001. It was a horrible day for America, with nearly 3,000 innocent people dying. This lit a fire inside Danielle that fuelled her passion for learning about world peace and what could be done to achieve it.
One day, Danielle’s parents took her along with them to a neighbourhood party. Danielle was the only one there her age and wasn’t sure who to talk to. Then she spotted a lady wearing a peace badge on her jacket. Danielle decided the two might have something in common and went up to introduce herself and ask the lady about her badge.
She soon found out she had a special spark in common with the lady, called Jill McManigal. Jill and Danielle shared a dream of bringing children of all ages and backgrounds together to be peace builders. During the party and beyond, Danielle and Jill planned how they could realise their vision.
Within a few weeks, Jill and Danielle gathered a small group of children in Jill’s backyard and led an open talk, asking them to share their wisdom on a series of topics. They asked questions such as, ‘What does peace mean to you?’ ‘What do you want our world to look like?’ and ‘What can you do to create the world you wish to see?’. People started talking about how wonderful these discussion groups and their impacts were. The word about them spread quickly and before long Danielle and Jill were flooded with requests to copy these discussion groups in several neighbourhoods. This is when KidsForPeace was born. Over the next few months, with children from all over the world, Danielle and Jill put together a Peace Pledge.
Now, children from all over the world meet to put the words of the Peace Pledge into action. For example, one of the pledges asks that children ‘Help others throughout the day.’ So children at the International School in India hosted a book drive, installed a library and shared story time with neighbourhood friends.
So far, over 15 million children across 121 countries have participated in KidsForPeace programs and performed an amazing 750 million acts of kindness. When asked about the most important thing Danielle has learnt, she said, ‘Persistence, persistence, persistence. If you have a vision for the world, it takes persistence and dedication to see it come to life. My vision is world peace, something most people write off as impossible. But if no one works toward it we’ll definitely never attain it.’
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