The annual "Run for Unity" event at the Shanti Ashram in Coimbatore became a powerful follow-up of the South Asia Workshop on Ethics Education that was held in August 2006 assembling around 60 children and young people from all over India as well as other neighboring South Asian countries.
Each year schools in Coimbatore in India devote a day to intercultural and interfaith cooperation and peace building. This year’s event under the theme Run for Unity begun with an Interfaith Prayer in 15 schools, which involved over 3000 children and young people. After the prayer in each school, the school children assembled at the Shanti Ashram for a joint program. After a welcome address, different activities and projects to promote a better world and environment were presented.
Youth from the Shanti Ashram shared information about projects they are involved in, such as the making of sacks and bags of different sizes to encourage people not to use plastic bags and thereby polluting the environment. The need for education for peace was emphasized in referring to the South Asia Workshop on Ethics Education that was held at the Shanti Ashram in August. The workshop had ended in several commitments by the participants. As a concrete follow up, a pledge was officially announced at the event to promote values like respect and responsibility thus corroborating the ethics education intiative.
The Green Brigade Students of the Shanti Ashram shared what they are engaged in and made a call for a better environment. A plant was handed over to the school that had done most for the environment during the past year. Four young people coming from deprived families shared what difference it had made for them being given the chance to get education by receiving scholarships. The sharing of the dedication of these children led programs was greatly appreciated by the audience.
The sharing and commitments to working for unity and peace was followed by a ceremony on the theme Elders leading younger, during which the adults participating in the event were called on the stage and given an oil lamp. The children lit their candles on the lamps of the adults as a symbol of sharing in the commitment to peace and unity and the underlining of the adults as role models for the children. Ms. Agneta Ucko, Director of the Arigatou Foundation in Geneva and Secretary General of the Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children attended the event and was one of the adults interacting with children in the ceremony.
The event concluded with a cultural program.