I firmly believe that for peace to be sustainable it has to start with younger generations and on their terms. “Kids to Kids International” (KTKI) advocates just that. This very special organization believes in creating a global generation of students who are connected to one another through peace and friendship by creating their own picture books. These books are purely created from the imagination of American students, which are then sent to countries where kids live in refugee camps or don’t have access to books for fun. The non-profit organization started in 1996, by author Pat Kibbe while speaking at a school came across an article featuring a young Cambodian refugee holding his most prized position- a post card of the Empire State Building. She incorporated the story of the young child into her speech, the kids where so excited by this that they wanted to write to him. Realizing that he did not speak English one child suggested that they draw pictures. Pat Kibbe was so delighted by their interest that she was determined for the pictures to be given to the young boy. When she arrived at the refugee camp she realized how powerful the idea could be and the organization was created. KTKI is now connecting with kids from over 50 countries and that number is sure to climb.
This project can be incorporated into any grade level curriculum. Mainly the books are children’s books, stories about friendship, animals, and imaginary places. Not only do these books allow for students to be artistically creative, but teachers can also turn it into a history or social studies lesson. The historical aspect comes from researching the country and the people the books will be going to. Students can learn about geographic locations and cultures. Writing skills can be improved by having students brainstorm, write a draft, and a final idea. KTKI, really believes that by engaging the students with meaningful connections it makes learning about the country much more important and builds a lasting positive impression of people from another part of the world. The books build trusting friendships between students who will probably never meet each other through sharing. American students get a sense of helping people and learning, while the kids who get to enjoy the books will feel cared about and then also become intrigued to learn about where the books came from. This process creates a mutually shared positive curiosity. With the growing interest in the NGO additional aspects have been created and added to the outgoing packages. School supplies and disposable cameras are added so pictures can be taken of the students who are enjoying the books and then sent back to the American students to enjoy and get a real lasting image of those they have impacted. Maps and pictures of the United States are also included so the kids can emotionally connect with where the books came from. Some of these packages are sent to kids who have never had a book or even seen one. If the students who are creating the picture books truly grasp that it will forever internalize a connection for them to the world by helping them understand that they can make a difference and do so in a peaceful, positive, and an actual effective way. Even if the gesture is just drawing a picture to share!
“Kids to Kids International” helps students develop a global understanding of their role in the world. It also incorporates some very important peace pedagogies like international and multicultural education. Depending on the material covered about the country and the grade levels taught human rights and conflict resolution could also be incorporated. This project allows students to use many of their multiple intelligences from visual/spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. Most importantly it gets them excited about helping, connecting, and sharing with the world around them. Lasting peace is created by having students create something that want to share with other kids!