YMCA Peace Week

Celebrating the presence of peace in our local and global communities.

Throughout the week, YMCAs across the country promote ways we can build peace, and highlight the peace-building work that happens all year round, both inside and outside the YMCA.

This year, YMCA Peace Week will be celebrated November 14 to 21, 2020.

“…Peace has many dimensions. It is not only a state of relationships among nations. We cannot expect to live in a world of peace if we are unable to live in peace with those close to us – even those who differ from us… The responsibility for peace begins with each person, in relationship with family and friends, and extends to community life and national activities…” — YMCA Statement of Peace, World Alliance of YMCAs, 1981

2020 Peace Week Activities

Monday, November 16 at 7:00pm

Join us on Facebook for Yoga for Peace. This special thirty-minute yoga class encouraging self reflection, peace and acceptance will be made available on our website throughout peace week.

Our 2020 Peace Medals will be distributed to recipients on Thursday, November 19. Watch our social media feeds to learn more about these remarkable individuals.

We are challenging members and staff to identify one thing you can do to act for peace and take a photo of yourself completing this act. Share the photo on social media using the hashtags #actforpeace #ymcaofniagara #peaceweek

About YMCA Peace Week

YMCA Peace Week has offered activities to help children, youth and adults explore peace from a personal, local and global perspective. During YMCA Peace Week, we encourage people to build community and act for peace. When we act for peace, we come together to help build a stronger and healthier community by promoting a sense of belonging, fostering empathy, embracing pluralism and addressing the social determinants of health.

The YMCA Peace Medalpeace-week-medal-2016

The YMCA Peace Medallion, introduced in 1987, offers a reminder that it is possible to build a more peaceful world, community by community, and that everyone can be engaged in these efforts. By highlighting peace concerns and celebrating others who share these values and are engaged in similar work, we remind the wider community that these concerns are a core part of the YMCA’s work. As part of Peace Week, the YMCA awards Peace Medallions to remarkable individuals or groups who, without any special resources, status, wealth or position, have demonstrated a commitment to building peace within their community or in communities elsewhere in the world. Peace Medallion recipients can be parents, students, community groups, people who have given freely of their time and talent to make local and global communities more peaceful places to live.

2020 Peace Medal Recipients

Andrew Harwood

It is Andrew’s determination and passion that stand out in our community. Andrew strives to offer youth opportunities to be involved no matter their socio-economic status and have them experience the benefits of sport and physical activity. Andrew has collaborated with organizations such as Niagara Regional Police Service, Niagara Region Housing and The RAFT to organize free community events. Andrew is also involved with a number of organizations as a volunteer. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Andrew created a motivation video series for youth in order to empower them and support their mental health. Andrew says, “whether it be community-based events, offering services to the community, providing new opportunities to children and families, or something else entirely, making a difference in the local community is what is important to me.”

My Linh (Julia) Do

My Linh is known for having strong leadership skills and commitment to youth in our community. She is involved in her school community at Saint Michael Catholic High School through the tutoring program, Social Justice Club, and Student Council to name a few of her extra-curricular activities. As an active member of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee in Niagara Falls, My Linh focuses on important issues concerning the City’s younger population. This past year, My Linh co-created and launched a project called InspireHER that creates online events to encourage and support girls and non-binary to ensure equity. My Linh is described as “extremely empathetic and has been inspired to empower others, especially females, to develop and grow and achieve to their potential!”

Audra Maloney

Audra has been an integral part of the Niagara and Fort Erie community for many years. Audra has helped to host ceremonies to assist families who have lost loved ones in Niagara and increase awareness for mental health. Audra performs simple acts that make an impact including supporting an older neighbour without a family, and larger acts such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds to establish an alternative high school program “Courage to Soar” with the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre. Audra supports Aboriginal youth with skill development and job training to allow them to experience success.  Audra has been recognized by Brock University for qualities of leadership, courage, inspiration, and community involvement. Audra continues to perform healing work for our community.

2019 Peace Medal Recipients

Ava Everson

Ava is a very kind sole with a zest for life and life experiences. Ava is a go-getter who actively participated in finding a cure and raising awareness related to diabetes. Ava actively fundraises for diabetes, has been an ambassador, and has supported with a petition that would have OHIP cover Continuous Glucose Monitors. Ava spends time meeting with children who are newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes to help them understand that they can live full lives. Ava is empathic to others and takes the time to help other children feel empowered, at ease and hopeful. Ave involved her community and holds them accountable to help make change.

Celeste Turner

Celeste is extremely involved supporting youth and individuals that are part of the 2SLGBTQ+ Community. Celests is a volunteer Board Member and Vice President of Out Niagara. An organization that is committed to Uniting Niagara’s Sexual and Gender Diverse Community. Celeste is a strong advocate for marginalized youth and equality and promotes a better world for all. Celeste is a yoga instructor and teaches Rainbow Flow yoga classes that are body-positive and accessible. Celeste is a vital member of the Niagara Falls Community Health Centre team, and goes beyond the role sharing time and talent to support anyone who needs it.

Ella Rizzuto

Ella is always encouraging children that their voice matters, and that they do have the power to speak up against injustices. In addition to being involved in volunteer work and fundraising, Ella uses various forums to bring to light different issues both locally and globally. Ella has written her Mayor with the support of her classmates, about warming shelters for individuals on the streets in the winter. Ella has also written to the Attorney General in Ecuador to protect indigenous women from oil companies. Ella’s painting portraying a little girl in Attawapiskat with a glass of dirty water is travelling to Mexico and Italy as part of an exhibit with Water for Life. Ella is an inspiration for children and reminds adults that we need to do better.

Jade Bilodeau

Jade continually gives back and provides a voice for youth in her community. Jade is extremely involved in school as a member of student council, was co-chair of the Secondary Student Senate and one of two student trustees. Jade is the President of the Catholic Board Council with the Ontario Student Trustee’s Association. Jade is also volunteer member of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee in Niagara Falls. Jade is involved with a variety of projects and initiatives, including a climate change strategy and youth mental health projects. Jade is an outstanding representative for student voice, and a natural leader who is the first to step up and help out.

Past Peace Medal Recipients

Marty Mako

Recipient of the 2018 Peace Award for his work with a variety of community organizations including YMCA Strong Kids, The United Way, Big Brothers / Big Sisters, Out of the Cold, the City of St. Catharines Heritage Committee and the Lincoln County Humane Society.

Greg Wierzcholski

Recipient of the 2017 Peace Award for his work with Niagara Conservatory of Music. Greg launched the Music Gives Movement program in 2015 to help low-income families across Niagara keep their children in music that otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford music lessons.

Mendelt Hoekstra

Recipient of the 2016 Peace Award for his work with Momentum Choir. As a music therapist, he gets people involved in music who otherwise may not have access to a traditional choir experience. As an advocate for members of the community with intellectual disabilities, he gives everyone the opportunity to showcase their talents. Momentum Choir has been trying to do that for ten years, blazing a trail for musicians who live with a disability to give back to the community, to share our music, and make our community a more peaceful place to be.