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Expressions of Peace

Mustapha El Tawokji from Beirut, Lebanon, won the first peace poster contest in 1988-1989.

Mustapha El Tawokji from Beirut, Lebanon, won the first peace poster contest in 1988-1989.

Expressions of Peace

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Touchstone Story #5

Nothing speaks louder to the world’s need for harmony than a child’s vision of peace—except for the collective expressions of millions of children.

Since 1988, Lions Clubs International has sponsored the annual Lions International Peace Poster Contest to encourage young people to express their perspectives on peace. Every year, as many as 400,000 children ages 11 to 13 from around the world participate in the contest. Sponsored by local clubs, the international competition reflects one of the key tenets of the Lions—to create and foster a spirit of understanding among the peoples of the world.

One international grand prize winner and 23 merit award winners are chosen each year for their unique and heartfelt visions of peace created from crayon, watercolor, pencil and other mediums. All winners receive a cash prize and certificate.

Mustapha El Tawokji from war-torn Beirut, Lebanon, won the first Peace Poster Contest in 1988-1989 by expressing the theme, “Peace Will Help Us Grow,” with a dove flying over a bed of roses. While he had never known peace, he expressed his vision of what peace would be like.

Grand prize winners have come from all over the world: Italy, Japan, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa and the United States, just to name a few. The artwork and creativity of every child who enters the contest is celebrated by its sponsoring Lions club. Each young artist’s work reflects his or her own experience, culture and worldview.

Visually impaired young people also have the opportunity to share their expressions of peace through the Lions International Essay Contest. Each year students ages 11 to 13 enter short essays on the same theme as the Peace Poster program for a chance to win a cash prize.

Both contests trace their roots back to a program in the 1960s called the Peace Essay Contest. To help celebrate LCI’s 50th anniversary in 1967, Lions asked young people ages 14 to 21 to submit an essay on peace. More than 1 million entries were received. Former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower served as honorary chairman of the international panel that chose high school student A. Russell Wodell of Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada, as the winner for his essay titled, “Is Peace Attainable?”

“There is no easy road to peace,” wrote Wodell. “Only through evolution of his social, moral and intellectual values can man achieve true peace with himself.”

Young people from around the globe continue to offer Lions their expressions of peace in the hopes that one day the dream may come true.

Picture of Dwight D. Eisenhower served as the honorary chair of the Lions Peace Essay Contest in 1966-1967.

Dwight D. Eisenhower served as the honorary chair of the Lions Peace Essay Contest in 1966-1967.

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