MIAMI GARDENS — When the National Office of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. heard of the violence against children and teens in the Miami-Dade County area, officers of the organization decided it was time to do something to stop the bloodshed.
The idea for a program called PeaceMaker, a 40-day or six-week program to teach peace, was born.
The sorority is hoping to persuade 250,000 people to sign a pledge to behave peacefully during that period –or longer — and make a difference in his or her life and the lives of others.
The Gamma Zeta Omega Chapter of the sorority launched the initiative at a “peace summit” on Jan. 19 at the Universal Truth Center, 21010 N.W. 37th Ave., Miami
It seeks to bring together schools, colleges, community organizations, and law enforcement agencies to promote greater cooperation and a sustainable reduction in violence,
The program is designed for a teacher or facilitator to lead a class or an entire school to help reduce aggressive or hurtful language and behavior and to engender an environment of kindness and cooperation.
More than 300 people showed up for the launching of the “peace summit” initiative.
Serving as partners with the Gamma Zeta Omega were Broward County chapters of the sorority, including Chi Psi Omega Chapter, Seta Rho Omega Chapter and Upsilon Xi Omega Chapter, along with the Universal Truth Center as well as The WISH Foundation Inc.
Panelists included Theresa Homer, police chief, Miami Dade College North Campus; sorority member Selena Respass, professor of Criminal Justice, Miami Dade College North Campus; the Rev. Dr. Anna Price, executive minister, Universal Truth Center; Pastor Jack Hakimian, Impact Church, North Miami; and Denise Bakeer-Brown, founder and president of RJT Foundation.
Also attending the summit were Miami Gardens Councilmen Rodney Harris and Erhabor Ighodaro and attorney Rhonda Vangates, who represented Miami-Dade County School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. Cynthia Clark, a sorority member and chairwoman of the event, said each person at the summit was asked to sign the peace pledge and follow it for 40 days. “By doing this, they will be helping to build a better community,” Clark said.
“Out of the 300 who showed up for the peace summit, about 200 of them were youths. They came from various organizations such as Top Teens, the Lamp Lighters, and the Ivy Rosettes, which is the evolving young leaders of Alpha Kappa Alpha,” she said.
The sorority is aware that 40 days of peace is not enough to solve all the problems of violence but it is a start, Clark said. The guidelines for the PeaceMaker program are outlined in stages in a sorority newsletter.
For example, during stage one (weeks one and two) participants were asked to make a commitment. Their challenge was to identify the negative words, actions and behavior they tend to use and stop doing so.
"Catch yourself when you say or do something negative or hurtful. Put the brakes on. Stop when you want to say or do something mean-spirited. Stop looking for something to criticize.
“Start with your own family. Extend to friends, classmates and others. Challenge yourself in every relationship,” the instructions say.
In stages two and three, the instructions encourage participants to “add positive words and positive actions.”
Those wishing to join the PeaceMaker program may sign up at: 40daysofpeace.org