26 November 2015

Photo 26-11-2015 10 50 22The award winning founder of a charity set up to tackle sectarianism will today encourage a new generation of ‘Peacemakers’ to build bridges across society.

Cara Henderson, who set up Nil by Mouth, in response to the brutal sectarian murder of her school friend Mark Scott, will address more than 200 young people from across South West Scotland as part of a special peace conference being organised by the Rotary Peace Advocate Programme which is delivered by Rotarians, teachers and community workers in schools and community groups across the country.

The conference, entitled ‘Battle Your Beasts’, is being held at the Easterbrook Hall in Dumfries and is being led by young people who are making a difference to their own lives and those of others in their schools and communities. During the conference they will highlight where the feel they have made a difference, how they achieved it and discuss future plans.

The programme began in 2011 when Rotarians started working with pupils with the aim of developing peaceful resolution skills which would enable them to conquer conflict in themselves, family circles, schools and in wider society. On a weekly basis, young people came together to learn strategies which help them to understand conflict and develop skills to resolve these problems. After working through these skills the pupils decide on a service project, which will benefit their home, school or communities. The Rotary Peace Project crosses cultural boundaries and has become engaged with projects in Mexico, Liberia, Nigeria, Kenya, Australia and the United States.

Ms Henderson, who earlier this year was named Evening Times ‘Scotswoman of the Year’, has been invited to reflect on the highs and lows of her 15 years campaign to challenge sectarianism and the work of her charity Nil by Mouth, which she set up when still a teenager.

Cara Henderson said:
It’s a real honour to be asked to speak at this event and have the chance to find out more about the Peace Advocates programme.  Those who seek to promote division in our world know that their strongest weapon is apathy and the reluctance of others to become involved. They deal in grudge and grievance, both real and imagined, and seek to drive a wedge between people. This programme challenges this approach head on by providing a platform and framework for young people to positively shape the world around them. It reminds young people that they are not just our tomorrow but also our today and that they can be the generation which builds bridges higher than walls.

Jean Best, Rotary District Peace Officer said:
“Nearly half the world’s population is under the age of twenty yet most of them do not yet identify themselves as people who can generate greatness in the world. Many young people are plagued with overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness that transcend racial, political, and economic boundaries. Yet as Cara as shown there is a boldness and bravery in youth and a desire to see the world for its possibilities. As a teenager she encouraged Scotland to face up to sectarianism and we know many of our young people are equally determined to create change. The young people who have been involved in our ‘Peace Advocate’ scheme are extremely passionate about this cause and would like to see it ‘rolled out’ in schools across the country. The terrible events of recent weeks have reinforced the important message that peace is not something we can take for granted and we are determined to do all we can to ensure that the next generation has the skills required to build a peaceful society.’


For further information on the Rotary Peace Advocate Programme Visit: http://www.rotarypeaceproject.com/?layout=index&page=peace-project-logo-explained