Give peace a chants!
Hundreds packed the pews of the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Bay Ridge for the Children’s Choral and Arts Festival of Peace on Feb. 11. Youth singing groups from across the nabe converged on the church and serenaded locals with songs that urged unity, a message that is particularly poignant given the country’s current political turmoil, said the event’s founder.
“I think with the divisive culture we’re living in now, it’s more and more important that we have community events for people to see new faces and say a simple ‘Hello,’ ” said Bay Ridgite Rita Pihra-Majurinen, who is also the director of the Children’s Chorus of Bay Ridge. “It was really heart-warming to me to see that message sink in with people.”
Students with the Leif Ericson Day School, the Bay Ridge Preparatory School, PS 102, and the Children’s Chorus of Bay Ridge belted out uplifting tunes followed by a mini-arts fair where kids painted peace signs and inspirational slogans on 60 pounds worth of rocks that they later scattered across the neighborhood for locals to stumble upon, according to Pihra-Majurinen.
It’s a nice way for the kids to spread a little joy into locals’ lives, said one parent.
“I think it’s a great message for the kids and to send the community,” said Bay Ridgite Heather Flaherty-Crane, whose daughter sang with the PS 102 chorus. “It’s just a nice little thing that people are now going to look for when they walk around the neighborhood.”
Organizers of the annual event typically honor the life and work of historical figures such as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr., but they chose to mix things up this year by highlighting the acts of lesser-known youth figures such as Clemantine Wamariya, a human-rights activist who survived the Rwanandian genocide as a 6-year-old, and Samantha Smith, who became known as “America’s Youngest Ambassador” when, at 10 years old, she wrote a letter to Yuri Andropov, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and the Russian big invited her to visit the Soviet Union.
Highlighting youth activists sends an encouraging message to local students, said Pihra-Majurinen
“It doesn’t matter what age you are — you can still be a peace-builder,” she said. “It shows them, even in elementary school, they can help do simple things that can make the world a better place.”