Peace Day at UW

In 1981, a United Nations resolution was passed to celebrate an International Day of Peace and to coincide with the opening of the General Assembly. In 2002, the General Assembly officially declared September 21 as the permanent date for the International Day of Peace.

To celebrate this day, I organized an event with some fabulous helpers at The University of Waterloo and called it Peace Day at UW. The theme of the event was called, Pinwheels for Peace, and we had the campus community design and plant pinwheels on the campus green in a very central location in order to raise awareness of this momentous day.

Thank you to the Waterloo Region’s newspaper, The Record, for covering the story and raising more awareness for the day.

From the The Record:

Children, university students plant 300 ‘pinwheels for peace’

September 22, 2007



Peace is a pinwheel on a warm late-summer day.

Girl Peace Day UW
A student from the University of Waterloo plants a pinwheel for peace.

Worried that International Day of Peace might pass unnoticed, psychology student Nick Petten gave peace a chance yesterday on the University of Waterloo campus.

He invited children in a campus preschool where he volunteers to make “pinwheels for peace.”

Yesterday, the four- and five-year-old children planted their pinwheels in the ground on campus and drew pictures on the sidewalk.

University students followed the children’s example, colouring pinwheels and dotting the landscape with them.

Petten, 23, was surprised at the response.

By 1 p.m., there were 150 pinwheels. By 3 p.m., there were 300.

“A lot of people asked about it and were genuinely interested.”

Petten said he was reminded in class a couple of days ago that the United Nations passed a resolution in 1981 to recognize Sept. 21 as International Day of Peace.

“It’s definitely an ideal, but I think it’s a very important ideal that everyone should know about and should think about too.”

He said he wanted to “normalize” the concept of peace so students don’t see it as a “far-off” idea.

The sight of brightly coloured pinwheels on campus made people stop and think about how they can participate in peace, Petten said.

“Peace is a very broad term. It goes from a global scene right down to personal interaction.”

Petten himself was reminded of the importance of peace when he worked at an emergency youth shelter in Kitchener this summer.

“You hear a lot of stories about unpeaceful family situations,” he said.

“Some of the kids are homeless; some of them are kicked out of the house; some of them have come in contact with the law and had to be removed from the house.

“Most of the projects and jobs I pick up are kind of centred around some sort of peace-building, reconciling families, and facilitating communication between people.

“I think that’s all directly related to peace.”

For the children who started off the event yesterday, it was clear that peace is a concept they understand.

One child said it’s all about “letting your mom have peace and quiet,” Petten said.