The Community of Sant'Egidio starts in Rome, Italy in 1968 as a movement of High School students who, wanting to live out their Christian faith, started to gather in prayer and service to others. The first individuals they served were children in the slums of Rome, who at the time not only did not have access to proper education, but also were lacking many basic necessities such as water, electricity, and clothing. The members of Sant’Egidio, students themselves, would go visit their younger friends at least once a week, but often more depending on need, offering them help in any way they could, but also becoming their friends and family.
More than 50 years later, the School of Peace has spread to more than 70 countries and helps thousands of kids. It remains at its core what it always was – a free after-school program for children in our cities that need it most. This often includes some aspects of tutoring, but also community engagement and space for kids to feel free to just be kids.
In 2002 Sant’Egidio received the International Montessori Prize “Education and Peace” for its work with children in its Schools of Peace.
Teresa Davoli has been volunteering for more than 15 years with the School of Peace, starting in Parma (Italy) her hometown, and then moving to Boston and New York City. The picture below is from the summer of 2017 from the School of Peace in Boston.
In New York City
The School of Peace started in Bronx 5 years ago in The Bronx at Our Savior Church on Washington Ave. We started and in the last two years we have reached out to public schools in the area and gathered with more than 50 elementary-school children each Saturday.
Our program is completely free to the children and is run primarily thanks to the help of college students. We offer the kids an hour of homework / work we have prepared if they did not bring homework, an hour of an activity, and then an hour of snack, singing, and playing. While we are there to support the children in any academic needs they might have, we also believe that it is important to make them active members of their community and of the world and to simply give them a place to grow up in peace. Some of the activities we have done include
- Trips to the UN
- Visits to the elderly at a local nursing home
- Picking up trash in the neighborhood
- Learning about children in other parts of the world
- Wrapping gifts for our homeless friends at Christmas time that we then give to them during our big Christmas lunch
- Arts & Crafts around a particular theme
The goal of School of Peace is to help raise children in an environment where they are free from violence, where their future seems to have possibility, and where they can actively participate in helping the world around them.