For the past six years, Play for Peace has welcomed fall with a 5K run/walk in honor of World Peace Day. This year, we’ll be celebrating once again at the 7th annual Play for Peace Fall 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, September 21, 2019, from 4-8 p.m. at the Bartlett Nature Center in Bartlett, IL. Since the event is taking place on World Peace Day this year, we are excited to join forces with peace builders around the world to pay tribute to this important celebration of peace.
How did it this event come to be? Seven years ago, Bartlett, IL, native Aidan Hennessy, then in kindergarten, was introduced to a group of children playing in Guatemala via Skype as part of a Play for Peace initiative with his mother’s company. Inspired by what he saw, Hennessy later wrote for a class assignment that he would donate $100 to Play for Peace so that those children in Guatemala could continue to play together. His mother, Lisa Gelsomino, honored her son’s wishes and helped create what is now the annual World Peace Day 5K Run/Walk.
Fast forward seven years, and the event is better than ever! This year’s 5K will take place on the crushed limestone trails of the Bartlett Nature Center—a beautiful, scenic spot with a USATF certified running trail! Attendees can take part in a 5K run (a chip-timed run is available for running enthusiasts) or a 1K walk for peace. After working up a sweat on the trails, hungry runners and walkers (and anyone else attending the event) can enjoy an all-you-can eat international food festival filled with goodies from some amazing local restaurants, as well as the many activities available on site: carnival games, a live animal show, face painting, pumpkin decorating, arts and crafts activities, archery, and more. There will also be a variety of unique local vendors to visit and a charity auction that will help raise funds to support children and communities affected by conflict around the world. See our event page for a full overview of the run/walk and celebration!
All proceeds from the Play for Peace Fall 5K will benefit children and communities affected by conflict—many living in poverty, disaster areas, and refugee camps—as well as the various programs offered by Play for Peace. Using cooperative play to bring children and youth from different backgrounds together, we create safe spaces where children can forget about the fear that keeps them isolated—and often causes them to engage in conflict and violence—and instead find laughter and joy. Play for Peace also trains youth leaders to facilitate cooperative and educational games with younger children. In turn, these youth learn leadership skills and serve as positive role models in their communities. It is a wonderful cycle that continues to spread, creating laughter, compassion, and peace in communities worldwide.
Please join us on World Peace Day, September 21, 2019, to help us continue the important work that we do and to celebrate peace around the world with fitness, food, and fun!