'Occupy' Summer Camp to be Honored on UN Day of Peace

By Meredith Hoffman on August 20, 2013 9:16am 

 The Paul Robeson Freedom School, the first ever OWS-approved summer camp, is being honored by the UN-affiliated Association for Trauma Outreach and Prevention this fall.
The Paul Robeson Freedom School, the first ever OWS-approved summer camp, is being honored by the UN-affiliated Association for Trauma Outreach and Prevention this fall.
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Paul Robeson Freedom School

EAST WILLIAMSBURG — Just months after Occupy Wall Street conceived its first teen summer camp, the revolutionary program is being honored on the United Nations' International Day of Peace by an affiliate of the institution.

The UN's sustainable development affiliate, the Association for Trauma Outreach and Prevention (ATOP), is giving the Paul Robeson Freedom School — a camp launched last summer and focused on social justice — an award this fall, organizers said.

"We are delighted to have selected the Paul Robeson Freedom School to receive an award for the wonderful peacebuilding and humanitarian work you do at the community level," Jane Kearns, the UN Representative from ATOP,  wrote in a letter to the school.

The Paul Robeson Freedom School will receive its award at the Bronx Museum of Arts at an annual peace celebration whose theme this year is "youth and their initiative, leadership and artistic contributions as global citizens," the letter says.

"We're going to be honoring them because of their innovative program," said Dr. Ani Kalayjian, the director of Meaningfulworld, the organization that founded ATOP.

Kalayjian said the award and the event were still in the planning stages.

The honor also comes at a time when the camp — which struggled to attract students its first year — is expanding its reach to a year-round afternoon program in its new Clinton Hill home, the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew, organizer Justin Wedes said.

"We’re honored to be receiving the award in our second year," said Wedes, noting that his students and teachers planned to attend the celebration Sept. 21. "It’s a nice wrap-up of our summer program and for the first time we’re going to offer after-school programming."

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