The Center for Peace and Justice Education at Villanova University will present its 2016 Adela Dwyer-St. Thomas of Villanova Peace Award to No Strings International (NSI), a not-for-profit organization which uses the artistry of puppetry to produce films that help some of the world’s most vulnerable children build life-saving skills and overcome the trauma they have experienced due to war and natural disasters.
Members of NSI including co-founders Johnie McGlade, Michael Frith and Kathy Mullen, Program Manager Rosie Walker, and No Strings Productions Executive Director Heather Asch will accept the award and present a lecture and puppetry demonstration at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, October 26 in the Villanova Room at the Connelly Center. The event is free and open to the public. Since 1990, the Adela Dwyer-St. Thomas of Villanova Peace Award has recognized an individual or group annually for outstanding contributions to the understanding of the meaning and conditions of justice and peace in human communities.
NSI, led by master puppeteers from Jim Henson’s Muppet Show, uses puppetry films to tell stories that teach lessons for the world’s most vulnerable children in a way that makes difficult material relatable for them. They have produced films for children in countries including Syria, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Afghanistan and Madagascar. Film topics have included landmine awareness, natural disaster preparation, malaria prevention and the importance of regular hand washing to avoid preventable diseases.
"NSI has responded with remarkable creativity and care to the needs of children who have experienced conflict and trauma around the globe,” said Kathryn Getek Soltis, S.T.L., Ph.D., Director of the Center for Peace and Justice Education. “In doing so, they remind us that vulnerable children need not only protection, but also the opportunity to share their own voices. Indeed, there can be no peace or healing without these voices.”
The films are culturally sensitive, with characters, plots and environments modeled after the situations experienced by the children for which they are intended to be viewed. Film demonstrations are accompanied by workshops that train local teachers and outreach workers involved in life-saving education to use the puppets to effectively reach the children through their own point of view. Workshops also teach children how to make their own simple puppets out of easy-to-find materials and come up with their own stories, taking the film’s key messages and connecting with them on a profound level. The children are able to share their thoughts and feelings about traumatic experiences in ways that come naturally to them, through play.
NSI has partnered with international non-governmental agencies including Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services, Oxfam, and others. Their films have been dubbed in dozens of languages, and incorporated into curriculums for elementary school students.
The University’s Center for Peace and Justice Education selects its annual Adela Dwyer-St. Thomas of Villanova Peace Award recipient from a list of candidates nominated by members of the Villanova University community. Past winners include NETWORK, Wendell Berry, Leymah Gbowee, Noam Chomsky, Daniel J. Berrigan, SJ, Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, Project H.O.M.E., and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit www.villanova.edu.