Florida Students Win Global Call to Action Challenge, Sponsored by the Pearson Foundation and PeaceJam

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Chautauqua Learn and Serve Charter School Earns Visit from Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams

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A team of students from the Chautauqua Learn and Serve Charter School in Panama City, Florida today were named the 2011 winners of the Global Call to Action Challenge, sponsored by the Pearson Foundation and PeaceJam. The award to the Chautauqua PeaceJam chapter recognizes their efforts to advance the rights of people with disabilities throughout the world. The students have advocated for accessible, efficient, and public mass transit across Florida and around the globe, traveling more than half a million miles to make presentations in cities including Cairo, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris, and Washington DC.

As Challenge Grand Prize winners, representatives of the group will attend the annual PeaceJam Hero Awards Luncheon taking place in Denver on November 15, 2011, to receive their award from 1997 Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams. In addition, Laureate Williams will pay a special daylong visit to the Chautauqua school in early 2012. During her visit, Williams will meet with the students and discuss new approaches and strategies for extending their efforts.

Chautauqua Learn and Serve Charter School students are between the ages of 18 and 22 and have moderate to severe disabilities. The school’s motto is, “The servers, not the served.” Locally, Chautauqua conducts 500 trolley trainings monthly to help elderly and disabled people use public transportation. Chautauqua participants have also donated more than 1,000 monthly public transit passes to the elderly, the disabled, disabled veterans, and disadvantaged woman and children.

The Global Call to Action Challenge, which encourages young people to document their service learning project and achievements, extends PeaceJam’s international mission of promoting the creation and implementation of one billion local service projects that extend the work of leading Nobel Peace Laureates including Williams, the Dalai Lama, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Chautauqua students, many wheelchair bound, have dedicated themselves to other Global Call to Action issues. Students from the school traveled to Jamaica to assist the Westhaven Children’s Home, a large orphanage of disabled children that had access to water only four days per week. The students dug a new water reservoir and trenches to bring water to the kitchens and bathrooms within the Home. When they returned to Florida, the Chautauqua students organized the Rotary, Lions Club, Kiwanis, and Junior Service League to contribute to the Home, thereby doubling the impact of their project.

Chautauqua Learn and Serve Charter School students worked out an agreement with a local principal in which the Chautauqua students committed to cleaning the high school cafeteria; in exchange, the principal agreed to use the $48,000 per year savings to fund a paraprofessional for both English as a second language students and exceptional education students.

“The students’ success at the Chautauqua Learn and Serve Charter School illustrates the power that young people have to improve their schools, their communities, and the world,” said Dawn Engle, PeaceJam co-founder. “Their efforts reflect the spirit and commitment of the Nobel Peace Prize winners and demonstrate that no matter what the circumstance, each and every one of us can make a difference. It all comes down to the heart, the spirit, and the dedication of the young people involved. The young people at Chautauqua are absolutely inspirational."

“Young people everywhere want to improve their communities and the world they will inherit,” said Mark Nieker, president and CEO of the Pearson Foundation. “These exemplary students show how important and essential making this change can be. We’re pleased to again support the Global Call to Action Challenge, and to help celebrate and encourage young activists whose leadership and creativity are building a better world.”

Tickets for the PeaceJam Hero Awards Luncheon are available to the general public online at http://www.peacejam.org/luncheon.aspx, or by calling 303-455-2099.

About The PeaceJam Foundation
PeaceJam is an international education program built around leading Nobel Peace Laureates who work personally with youth to pass on the spirit, skills, and wisdom they embody. The goal of PeaceJam is to inspire a new generation of peacemakers who will transform their local communities, themselves, and the world. Since its launch in 1996, more than 600,000 youth have participated in the PeaceJam program, creating and implementing almost one million service projects. More than 150 PeaceJam youth events have taken place in over 10 countries throughout the world.

About the Pearson Foundation
The Pearson Foundation, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit, extends Pearson’s commitment to education by partnering with leading nonprofit, civic, and business organizations to provide financial, organizational, and publishing assistance across the globe. The foundation aims to make a difference by sponsoring innovative educational programs and extending its educational expertise to help in classrooms and in local communities. More information on the Pearson Foundation can be found at http://www.pearsonfoundation.org.

CONTACT: Jes Ward
Email: jes(at)peacejam(dot)org
Phone: 303-455-2099 Fax: 303-455-3921
Address: 11200 Ralston Road, Arvada, CO 80004
Website: http://www.peacejam.org

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PeaceJam
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