BENNINGTON -- Every two years, the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run makes its way to more than 100 countries across six continents to promote world peace and give those countries' citizens an opportunity to express hopes and dreams of world harmony.
The founder of the torch relay, the late Sri Chinmoy, was an Indian spiritual teacher master who taught meditation to thousands of students across the world in his time in New York, N.Y.
Since mid-April, runners and Chinmoy students from around the world have been relaying a lit torch across New England and Canada before returning to New York in late August. From there, the torch and peace advocates will continue their journey to other countries.
The runners passed through Bennington on Friday on their way south from Canada, before bringing the torch east to Brattleboro. A group of runners stayed behind to meet with children from the Bennington Recreation Center's youth camp on Gage Street.
"It's great, because these people are from all different countries," said Parks and Recreation Director Tracy Knights. "They are speaking about world peace: So it's a real learning experience for them, even when they are not in school."
Children from the two camp age groups were brought together to make a banner to greet the peace advocates. They met individuals from Bali, Nepal, New Zealand, Australia and Brazil for the lighting of a demonstration torch and a song.
"Our favorite people to share this message with is young people and children, because we really feel like you guys are the ones that are going to help to make the world a more peaceful place," said Harita Davies, a peace advocate and Chinmoy student from New Zealand.
The torch was passed around in a circle so each child could make their own wish for peace, justice and harmony.
"We share this message with children, adults, musicians, athletes and artists When we ask people to hold the torch, we like to think that we bring people's hopes and dreams of peace wherever we go," Davies said.
Since the 1987 inaugural run, over 5-million people have contributed to the torch relay. About 50,000 children in more than 1,000 North American cities have been expected to participate in related activities this year alone.
"Peace begins with one person at a time. What (Chinmoy) teaches us that when we find peace in our hearts, then we will have peace in the world," said Chinmoy student Akankha Perkins of Woodstock, Vt., who organized many of the stops in the state. "When somebody feels peaceful, those around them feel peaceful and it spreads: It's great that children can become aware of it."
To find more information about the peace run, visit www.peacerun.org, or call 888-882-4081 to learn how to get involved.
The recreation center's youth camp meets for seven to eight weeks every summer, offering camps for kids ages 4 to 7, or 8 to 14. The camp has in some way participated in the peace run for the past six years.
Find information about the youth camp or any of the center's recreational activities online at http://www.townofbennington.org /TOB/departments/parks-recreation/.
Contact Tom Momberg at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg