"No group was affected more by the Oklahoma City bombing than the children of this nation," said Tony Vann, development director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation. "The children carry the TV image of the bombed-out Murrah Federal Building burned into their memories. For most of them, it was quite horrifying.
"One way they coped was to send their drawings, poems, stories, cards, and teddy bears to Oklahoma City," added Vann.
Now there is another way.
The 168 Pennies Campaign is a national effort conducted by the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation to give students a chance to be positively involved in building the memorial. Students across the nation are being asked to raise or give one penny for each person who died in the bombing.
"In this campaign, we want to reach back out to these students to give them something positive they can do," Vann told Education World. "We want them to learn from what happened, to understand the terrible effects of violence and terrorism, and to teach future generations. Most of all, we want them to never forget what happened, for in remembering we continue to learn."
The kit includes a 168 Pennies brochure, lesson plans for five activities, and a five-minute video featuring Oklahoma native Shawntel Smith, Miss America 1996, and Clint Seidl, a young student who lost his mother in the bombing.
A visit from Hope Bear, a teddy bear connected with the bombing, is one of the activities participating classes can arrange.
"Immediately after the Oklahoma City bombing, people from all over the world felt a need to show their concern and their outrage at what had taken place," said Vann. "Many came to the site and left personal belongings on the chain-link fence that surrounded the site. Many sent their remembrances through the mail. Among those items were numerous teddy bears. They symbolized America's hope that we would never forget what happened. They symbolized America's hope that we would continue to learn from what happened.
"We began to call these teddy bears our 'Hope Bears,'" Vann added.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial Archives staff has catalogued and cares for the Hope Bears. They are now available to spend a month with a school as part of the 168 Pennies Campaign.
The Hope Bear teaching activity (reprinted below) is taken directly from the 168 Pennies teaching materials. Additional activities can be found by following the links below:
Violence Prevention In this activity, students will define violence, list possible causes of violence, and identify ways to prevent violence.
A Person of Character In this lesson, students will identify people of good character, list the traits of people of positive character, and set goals for improving their character.
The Peace Machine This lesson engages students in defining peace. They will list examples of events and situations that they identify with peace and develop and construct a visual representation of peace.
Hope Bear Journal Activity In this activity (reprinted below), students will orally express their ideas about resolving conflict. They will write about incidents in their community and participate in journal writing activities about conflict and conflict resolution in their daily lives.
Memorials and Community Responses to Disasters Students will learn about community responses to disasters and other historical events. Students will brainstorm ways to raise money for the 168 Pennies Campaign.
OBJECTIVES: Students will orally express their ideas for resolving conflict. They will write about incidents in their community and participate in journal-writing activities about conflict and conflict resolution in their daily lives.
Discuss with students some of the basic needs that we, as humans, have. Those needs help us lead happy and productive lives. Included in that discussion might be the need
Have students talk about how people meet those needs. Discuss what others can do to help people meet their needs. Ask students how peace and conflict resolution relate to meeting the basic needs of humans. Let students know that the ability to express and resolve conflicts is central to a peaceful community. Explain that although conflict is a daily part of life, people can create ways of resolving conflict without violence.
Have students list alternatives to violence as a means of resolving conflict. Write their responses on the chalkboard or on chart paper.
Then read aloud to the class [set ital] Sneetches, by Dr. Seuss.
Have students identify key elements from Sneetches under the following headings listed on a sheet of chart paper:
ConflictPresent (or have older students gather) a selection of pictures or articles that depict or describe any of those terms.
Post the paper on the wall to serve as a resource for students.
Introduce Hope Bear to the class. Explain that someone, possibly another student, sent Hope Bear to Oklahoma City after the Murrah Federal Building bombing in April of 1995.
Explain that the bear is going to spend one month with the class. Tell the students that, while there, Hope Bear will learn about conflict in their community and the measures people take to resolve conflicts. The students will write journal entries to Hope Bear each day, explaining conflicts in their daily lives, the resolutions to those conflicts, and the ways the students feel before, during, and after conflict.
Younger students can draw pictures as journal entries.
Explain when Hope Bear goes home to the Oklahoma City National Memorial, the journals will go too.
Divide students into small "journal" groups. Each day, students will share the entries in their journals with the other members of their group.
You might invite parents, community members, and others to the class to hear some of the journal readings if your students are comfortable with that activity.
After a month of writing and sharing, mail the journals and Hope Bear to the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation at P.O. Box 323, Oklahoma City, OK 73101. Each bear and journal will be preserved and placed in the National Memorial Archives for possible future exhibitions in the Oklahoma City National Memorial Center.
If the class or the school decides to participate in the 168 Pennies Campaign, Hope Bear can be involved in the fund-raising activities.
CLOSURE: Ask students what they learned from the experience with Hope Bear. Ask them to list ways that they can continue to build skills in conflict resolution. Have the class write a mission statement about resolving conflict.
ASSESSMENT/EVALUATION: Evaluate students' participation in group discussions and the completeness of their journals. The journals can serve as a writing portfolio for evaluation.
Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 1999 Education World