The Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI) launches “Harmonizer” program in Tijuana, Mexico
Harmonizer program encourages youth to instill and disseminate values, attitudes and behaviors of peace in conflict-affected areas
Ericsson to enable collaboration among youth by providing internet access via mobile broadband, tablets and mobile phones as well as ICT training
Forest Whitaker, Oscar-winning actor, humanist and Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced today that his foundation, WPDI, will launch the Harmonizer Program in Mexico in cooperation with Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC, news, filings), Swedish Postcode Lottery, the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California (UABC) and UNESCO.
The Harmonizer Program in Mexico encourages social change and transformation in urban areas affected by violence and conflict. With the support of on-the-ground partners, WPDI will train vulnerable youth experiencing the aftermath of violence and conflict in Mexico. Training will include conflict resolution, community building, life coaching, and information and communication technologies (ICTs), among other skills. The program will run for three years and will support participants in the development and deployment of positive leadership and constructive change in their own communities.
This project is part of the Youth Peacemaker Network (YPN), a program that has been already established by WPDI in South Sudan and Uganda, where Ericsson is also a partner. The YPN is a global initiative that seeks to nurture a new generation of leaders committed to reconciliation and conflict prevention.
Whitaker said: “Peace and prosperity can only be attained by communities and nations heeding the voices of our diverse and vibrant youth. That’s why it is so important to work in partnership with youth. Youth are not only the builders of our future, they are among the architects of change today. They are positioned, in our fast and connected world, to promote the significance of education, personal empowerment and leadership and to build peaceful and resilient communities.”
Ericsson will provide to the program internet access via mobile broadband, tablets, and mobile phones alongside basic ICT and social media training and tools for connecting students through the global education initiative Connect To Learn, which has the goal to scale up access to quality education globally.
Elaine Weidman Grunewald, Ericsson Vice President for Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility said: “We hope that technology can empower the participants in the program to collaborate with eachother, and the broader Youth Peacemarker Network, and also to help them explore their ideas and dreams. We see this launch as the start of something truly transformational, made possible in part by the Networked Society.”
The Harmonizer program in Mexico will begin its initial roll-out by holding its first training for 34 youth including young women and men from the different communities of the City of Tijuana. The training took place in Tecate from 7 to 12 January 2014 and covered such fields as conflict resolution, leadership, peace- and community-building, ICTs and wellness and life skills. This first phase will benefit from the strong and continuous support of the Office of the Governor of Baja California, as well as the Office ot the Mayor of the City of Tijuana, who all took part in the closing ceremony of the event in Tecate.
Over the next three years, the program will expand to other parts of Mexico, and it plans to produce a long-term capacity development, mentoring and business skills program to promote ground-breaking alternative models of learning and skills-based opportunities for Mexican youth.
The program is made possible with support from the Swedish Postcode Lottery, which provided seed financing to the WPDI to establish the initative.
NOTES TO EDITORS
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About Forest Whitaker:
Award winning artist, Humanist and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Forest Whitaker has dedicated most of his time to extensive humanitarian work. In 2011, he was named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation for his personal dedication and work in the field of conflict resolution and his commitment to promote humanitarian ideals. He founded the Los Angeles based Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative in 2012, and in partnership with Rutgers University, he co-founded of the International Institute for Peace under the auspices of UNESCO. In recognition of his commitment as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and for his outstanding contribution to the work of the Organization, Whitaker received in December 2012 the United Nations Correspondents Association Advocate of the Year Award. In 2013, Boston University’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center appointed Whitaker as a Martin Luther King Jr Fellow. In 2007 he received the Cinema for Peace Award for his selfless and ongoing advocacy for child soldiers, as well as his work with inner-city youth. He was also awarded the Humanitas Prize in 2001. Currently, he serves as a spokesperson for the Ugandan child soldier orphanage Hope North, and is a board member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH). For more information, join the conversation @ForestWhitaker.
About the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative:
The Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI) is dedicated to peace-building and community empowerment in areas of conflict everywhere. Founded in 2012 by Academy Award winning actor Forest Whitaker, WPDI works to engage, empower and inspire youth, women, and global citizens to promote peace across the planet. Through on-the-ground programs in Latin America, Africa and the United States, WPDI helps societies affected by conflicts and violence transform into safe and productive communities.
About the Swedish Postcode Lottery:
The Swedish Postcode Lottery produces popular TV entertainment and operates one of Sweden’s most popular lotteries which gives participants the chance to win money together with their neighbors. The Lottery also offers Bingo and scratch tickets online. Over one million Swedes watch the TV-shows, participate in the lottery or buy tickets online. The lottery was founded in 2005 and its vision is to help build a better world for people and planet. All profits are donated to charitable purposes through the 44 organisations the lottery supports. Since the start in Sweden, the lottery has donated SEK 3.8 billion to the non-profit sector and paid out more than SEK 5 billion in winnings to lottery ticket owners. In 2012 the Swedish Postcode Lottery’s net sales amounted to SEK 3.03 billion. Together, the Novamedia/Postcode Lotteries is the second largest private charity donor in the world.
About the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
UNESCO is a specialized agency of the UN. It aims to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information along with fundamental principles proclaimed in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
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