children-in-crossfire-logoLife University and the Center for Compassion, Integrity and Secular Ethics (CCISE) is pleased to be working in collaboration with the Ireland based charity, Children in Crossfire and its Founder and Director Mr. Richard Moore to support Children in Crossfire’s innovative “Educating the Heart” program. The story of Children in Crossfire has its roots in what began as a tragedy and ended as a triumph of the human spirit to overcome adversity.  In 1972, aged 10, Richard Moore was blinded by a rubber bullet fired by a British soldier at point blank range into his face.  Amazingly, from childhood to the present day, he has never allowed bitterness to stunt his development.  “I have learned to see life in a different way”, is how he describes his remarkable acceptance of what, for most, would be a debilitating trauma.

Children in Crossfire is a non-government international development organization registered in Ireland, the UK and the USA, dedicated to improving the lives of young children in some of the world’s poorest countries.Children in Crossfire engages in projects to help children in Ethiopia and Tanzania gain access to clean water, nourishment, education, housing and healthcare. Just as it engages in these projects in Africa,Children in Crossfire is also dedicated to the practice of Development Education in Ireland. Being an organization rooted in justice and fairness, it believes it has a responsibility to engage the public to take action for a more just, peaceful and sustainable world. Children in Crossfire’s Development Education department works with teachers, youth workers, young people, and the wider community to promote the importance of active global citizenship

Inspired by its patron, His Holiness the 14 th Dalai Lama of Tibet, and with the support of Life University’s Center for Compassion, Integrity and Secular Ethics, Children in Crossfire seeks to enhance its Development Education program further by integrating the cultivation of compassion and basic human values into it.

Children in Crossfire’s Development Education program, as currently designed and delivered, has a strong focus on critical thinking applied to active citizenship. It has a clear emphasis on developing the intellectual capacity of individuals to react to global injustice. Including a compassion training element would add a structured and measurable model to build values and emotional stability for a more compassionate approach to taking actions for addressing injustice. To this end, Children in Crossfire invited CCISE’s Associate Director Dr. Brendan Ozawa-de Silva and the Director of the Emory-Tibet Partnership, Geshe Lobsang Tenzin, who is also a Founding Fellow of CCISE, to speak at the launch of the Educating the Heart project in Derry, Northern Ireland, on April 18, 2013, which was presided over by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This event brought 60 key educators, policy makers, community workers, researchers and students together to discuss bringing the cultivation of compassion and basic human values into education. Subsequent to that, Children in Crossfireinvited Dr. Ozawa-de Silva back to Derry to continue work on the Educating the Heart program with Children in Crossfire’s Development Education staff.

The next stage of the Educating the Heart project is a pilot study of a new program that combines Children in Crossfire’s existing Development Education work with techniques for the cultivation of compassion with children aged 11-12 at Oakgrove Integrated College in Derry, Northern Ireland in Fall, 2015. This study will break new ground both in contemplative practices and Development Education. Although a body of knowledge is emerging around the benefits of contemplative practices in classroom settings, no study has looked at the benefits of compassion training as ‘applied’ to active global citizenship. Likewise, no Development Education study has looked at the role of emotional regulation and positive mental states for productive social activism and social change. The hope is that this new program can then be a model for the introduction of compassion-based development education programming in other settings, thereby combining the ideals of compassion with active global citizenship for children around the world.

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