September Project of the Month (POTM): Providing Peace for Young Refugees


In her message for Peace Day this year, Dr. Jane reminds us that, “sadly, the world is not a very peaceful place in so many places around the world.” But there is hope…there is always hope. Especially if we stand up for those around the world who are fleeing persecution and violence. They need us to stand TOGETHER now more than ever.

After first establishing the International Day of Peace in 1991, every member of the United Nations General Assembly agreed in their 2001 resolution to recognize September 21 as “a day of global ceasefire and nonviolence.”

Cze-NLnWQAAvKyQ-298x300Each year, the UN chooses a new theme for Peace Day, to rally the international community around, signifying their determination to achieving global peace. The 2017 theme is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety, and Dignity for All” which shines a light on the UN global initiative TOGETHER. TOGETHER inspires a collective effort to promote tolerance and support for refugees and migrants.

There is more to achieving peace than laying down weapons. True peace requires building bridges, combating discrimination and standing up for the human rights of all the world’s people.” — UN Secretary-General, António Guterres

Now, more than ever, refugees all over the world need support from the International community. In their 2016 report, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that the number of refugees globally has reached 22.5 million, with only 189,300 resettling in other nations. Of that 22.5 million, just over half (51%) are under the age of 18. That means that young people are forced to leave everything behind to escape conflict or persecution in their home countries. With dreams of establishing a better life, many displaced persons remain stuck in refugee camps for years. They face fear and discrimination from countries that could provide them asylum and have limited access to resources, jobs, and education.


But Dr. Jane says there is hope…and there is. It can be found in the bright, compassionate minds of youth determined to make the world a better place for all. This month, in honor of International Day of Peace, we are proud to shine a light on an amazing group of Michigan high schoolers who are working to help find homes for refugee children in their community.

Traverse City West Senior High YoungPeacebuilders Club members have been working with community organizations and caseworkers to help find foster families for refugee children on their way to the US. Many of the refugees arriving are the same age as the Roots & Shoots club members who began their project by completing an awareness exercise to imagine what it would be like if they too lost everything and had to start over. Group members wanted to build acceptance, trust, and compassion between community members and refugees.

Through their community mapping exercise, they discovered all of the tools available to them to spread their positive message. They contacted the local news station, distributed paper fliers, and raised their voices on social media. Their work was quickly recognized — Michigan’s 9&10 NEWS wrote an article celebrating their efforts and their role as leaders in their hometown.

The YoungPeacebuilders truly exemplify the determination and creativity necessary to tackle the world’s big problems.

“Remember that even if you cannot have any impact on the major problems around the world, there are many ways you can make the world around you more peaceful – through small acts of kindness, showing respect for people, animals and the environment.” – Dr. Jane

You too can stand TOGETHER with Roots & Shoots members all over the world to celebrate #PeaceDay.


The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.

gfan learn more v2gfan support jgi v2

gfan shop jgi v2



About Author

Riley Lindheimer is currently an intern for the Jane Goodall Institute's Roots & Shoots. She is finishing up her last year as an undergraduate at UCSB double majoring in Communication and Global Studies. While at UCSB, she has been inspired to work in areas of social justice, including how to improve national and regional policies that provide assistance to refugees. Volunteering from a young age for organizations that assist disadvantaged communities, Riley knew that she wanted to help people all over the world who are struggling. With its strong ties to the founding of Earth Day and its close proximity to the beach, living in Santa Barbara has taught Riley how individuals play a crucial role in protecting animals and the environment. She has expanded her career goals to include working on campaigns that impact the people, animals and environment that make up our beautiful planet!