Operation Respect

A Peacebuilding Connections Project

Operation Respect Ukraine

Peacebuilding Connections produced Operation Respect Ukraine (OR Ukraine) which worked to expand the usage of social and emotional development curriculum in Ukrainian schools and communities. OR Ukraine was a joint effort between the US Peace Corps, Peace Corps volunteers, Ukrainian NGO’s Alternative-V and the YMCA of Ukraine, the US Embassy, Operation Respect, and local community members and teachers.

OR Ukraine uses a training of trainer’s model throughout the country, training educators on how to use the “Don’t Laugh at Me” anti-bullying curriculum with the goal of creating safe, caring and compassionate environments. Over 3,000 Ukrainian teachers, educators, and social workers have attended OR Ukraine trainings.

To amplify and launch the program OR Ukraine worked with Operation Respect founder and folk musician Peter Yarrow and Ukrainian folk musician Maria Burmaka to hold a series of concert across Ukraine. OR Ukraine produced a music album in English and Ukrainian featuring the two artists. Songs from the album were then used in the new Ukrainian version of the “Don’t Laugh at Me” curriculum.

I think that this program “Operation Respect” allows people to feel society better, to interact with it, and to be more active and communicative. This program taught us a lot, and helped us to be more open, bold, and sensitive towards others. When we were doing different tasks, each of us had an opportunity to feel ourselves in another’s place, so we began to better understand each other.

Operation Respect Rock River Valley

Peacebuilding Connections produced Operation Respect Rock River Valley (OR RRV) in order to build partnerships in the Rock River Valley of Illinois in order to increase respect amongst individuals and organizations in the region. OR RRV was comprised executive leaders in the fields of education, health, business, nonprofit, and government. Collectively the group raised over $100,000 in grants and private donations in order to fund programs and trainings at schools, community centers, and a range of additional work spaces.

OR RRV organized a one of a kind roundtable with over 20 executive leaders in the Rock River Valley to design, create, implement, and own their own long term solutions to the perceived and realized lack of respect in the community. To deepen relationships between coalition members OR RRV held a series of community concerts at schools and parks which culminated in a free community concert with over 1,500 people at the famed Coronado Theater in Rockford, Illinois.

In 1999, Peter founded a non-profit organization called Operation Respect: “Don’t Laugh At Me” (DLAM), based on his passionate belief that music, with its power to build community and catalyze change, can be a particularly powerful organizing tool, as well as a source of inspiration for children. The project utilizes music and video along with character education curricula to help fight bullying in schools and establish safe, compassionate and nurturing environments for children.

For Peter Yarrow, civic involvement has gone hand and hand with music for many decades. Along with his singing partners, Noel Paul Stookey and Mary Travers, Peter played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

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