Peace First, a national nonprofit dedicated to creating the next generation of peacemakers, has announced the five winners of the 3rd annual Peace First Prize. Among the winners is Brennan Lewis, a first-year Honors Carolina student and Froelich Fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The Peace First Prize is a national award recognizing youth peacemakers, ages 8-22, who are leaders focused on making lasting social change in their communities by connecting across lines of difference with compassion, standing up for others and ideals with courage, and creating collaborative change by leading with others. The winners will receive a 2-year, $25,000 Fellowship to further their peacemaking work.
“We are constantly telling young people that when they grow up, they can change the world. But why wait? Our prize winners understand that young people can be just as effective as adults in leading positive change in our society,” stated Eric D. Dawson, President and co-founder of Peace First. “These young people are part of a larger movement to be the change they want to see in the world, and we are excited to support their work.”
The five inspiring young people were selected as 2015 Peace First Fellows because through their compassion, courage and ability to collaborate with others, they have been the driving force behind positive changes in their communities. The five winners are listed here:
- Brennan Lewis, age 18, Apex, NC: Brennan’s organization, Queer NC, is a safe space for LGBTQ youth in rural North Carolina to connect with and educate one another, empowering them to make positive change in their communities. Queer NC serves 500 youth across the state through meetups, social media, seminars, leadership trainings, and dances. An additional 80 youth have participated in QueerNC’s ASPYRE leadership camp, an annual weekend-long camp that empowers and assists participants in designing their own action plan to create positive change.
- Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, age 15, Boulder, CO: Xiuhtezcatl founded Rising Youth for Sustainable Earth (RYSE), which combines a council of 13 youth leaders with the advice of a council of elders that plan global actions to address the issue of climate change. Xiuhtezcatl addressed the UN General Assembly on Climate Change on June 29, 2015.
- Yasmine Arrington, age 22, Washington, DC: Yasmine’s organization, ScholarCHIPS, provides college scholarships, mentoring, and a sense of community to children of incarcerated parents. Yasmine pursued higher education despite battling the stigma of her father’s incarceration throughout her childhood.
- Grace Callwood, age 10, Abingdon, MD: Grace is a cancer survivor who founded We Cancerve Movement in 2011 to improve the quality of life of young people who are sick, homeless, or in foster care. To date, We Cancerve Movement has donated over 150 outfits and 60 coats to the homeless, and hosted beauty, movie, pizza and dance party nights for teen foster girls.
- Jasmine Babers, age 19, Rock Island, IL: Jasmine founded Love GIRLS Magazine, a quarterly publication that distributes 12,000 free copies nationally and sponsors the Love Awards ceremony, which promotes self-esteem and confidence in girls everywhere. Jasmine published the magazine after seeing the devastating effects of bullying, and to create a space where girls lift each other up instead of tear each other down.