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Build Community. Act for Peace.

“We cannot expect to live in a world of peace if we are unable to live in peace with those close to us – even those who differ from us….”
YMCA Statement on Peace

Peace is an important foundation of building healthy communities, where everyone is included and feels like they belong. The YMCA believes peace is more than the absence of violence and conflict. Peace is the ongoing work of building and rebuilding conditions of fairness, inclusion, empathy, security, and respect for diversity.

The month of November plays host to a nationwide YMCA initiative called Peace Week. This is a time when we can celebrate the presence of peace in our local and global communities. Peace Week offers activities and opportunities for people of all ages to explore peace from personal, community and global perspectives.

Peace Week at the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka

This year, the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka is celebrating Peace Week from November 16-23. As an advocate for peace, I invite everyone to be part of the conversation. Share something you do to foster peace in your home, school, workplace or community. Take a moment to reflect on Peace Week by joining one of our many Yoga for Peace classes – open and free to everyone in the community. Record your Acts of Peace on a leaf and help build the Peace Trees that will be present in our YMCA Centres. Or, take part in one of our many YMCA “Peace It Forward” activities happening throughout the week.

What kinds of actions create PEACE? 

Acts for peace can be big or small. Either way, they tend to grow outward, creating ripples through the entire community. An act for peace may affect only one person directly—but it may also show many more people what is possible. Simple actions like sharing, being patient or smiling and saying hello can have a far greater impact on others than we think. When we embody the values of PEACE through daily actions, we build stronger and healthier communities.

P   Participation: get involved and encourage others to get involved in community-building activities
E   Empathy:  listen and understand diverse perspectives to create a sense of belonging for all
A   Advocacy:  make the case for positive change in your community
C   Community:  build and strengthen community connections and capacity
E   Empowerment:  inspire others to foster peace and help them gain the skills and tools to succeed

We invite you to get involved during YMCA Peace Week. Visit us at to learn more about Peace Week and to view the Yoga for Peace schedules. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook and share your thoughts about peacebuilding using #YMCAPeaceWeek. Join the movement and #actforpeace!

Rob Armstrong is President and CEO of the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka; focused on investing in communities, ensuring all people have access to the Y and implementing programs that are helping thousands of youth and families to learn and thrive. Prior to joining the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka in 2011, Rob held senior leadership positions at the YMCA of Edmonton, YMCA of Owen Sound, YMCA of Cambridge and most recently YMCA Ontario. Rob holds an Honours degree in Physical and Health Education from Queen’s University and has since augmented his education with advanced courses from the Harvard Business School of Entrepreneurship, Ivy School of Business and Queen’s University Executive Education Program.

Since coming to Simcoe/Muskoka, Rob has taken an active leadership role in the Child, Youth and Family Services Coalition of Simcoe County and Barrie’s Pathways to end homelessness. He served on a number of boards including local Community Foundations, Affordable Housing, Parks and Recreation Ontario and the Minister of Health Promotions Health Advisory Committee.

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