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Nobel Peace Laureate will inspire next generation about community-based solutions to threats of violence

1 March 11

Nobel Peace Prize winner Betty Williams will be visiting the University of Bradford from 4 - 6 March to inspire young people about practical ways to act for peace and social justice in their own communities.

Betty Williams has worked tirelessly for peace since 1976, when she was first on the scene of a tragic car accident. The runaway car driven by a young IRA member, fleeing from British soldiers, crashed into a family of four. All three children were killed. Betty Williams’ response to the terrible scene was to circulate petitions against the violence and in less than 48 hours had over 6,000 signatures. At the funeral, Betty and the children’s aunt, Mairead Corrigan, decided to co-found the Peace People, an organisation dedicated to non-violence in Northern Ireland. In recognition of their extraordinary efforts to end the Sectarian violence, the women were jointly awarded the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize.

Betty Williams is a co-founder of the Nobel Women's Initiative, and heads the World Centres of Compassion for Children International, which has built a village in Italy for children fleeing war and violence.

Betty Williams will be at the University for three inspirational days of activities. Over 200 young people from Yorkshire and beyond will spend the weekend debating and learning about practical action for peace and social justice with Betty.  Activities over the weekend include participants visiting West Bowling, a local area in Bradford, to plant food crops, paint an indoor mural and talk with a community group here about their Disarm project on tackling knife and gun crime.  Betty will also join Fairtrade campaigners at the University to celebrate Fairtrade Fortnight with an ice cream van dispensing Ben and Jerry’s to PeaceJam participants.

This year's PeaceJam will also see a delegation of 30 young people from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh using the weekend as a way of establishing trust and dialogue after years of territorial conflict.

PeaceJam organiser, Dr Fiona Macaulay, said: "We are very much looking forward to the annual PeaceJam and are delighted to welcome Betty Williams to Bradford for the weekend.  We hope her work for Peace will provide inspiration for our young attendees that they will take back to their own communities. 

"We are also very proud to be welcoming the delegation of 30 young people from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh – with the current state of unrest in the Middle East and North Africa it is now important more than ever to be teaching the next generation about conflict resolution and work around peace."

The University of Bradford was the first UK university to introduce degrees in Peace Studies and hosts one of only seven international Rotary Peace Centres around the world. Betty Williams' visit is part of the University's prestigious PeaceJam event, now in its sixth year.

PeaceJam is an international education programme that started in the USA 12 years ago and now operates in nine other cities across the world. Bradford is the only place in Europe to host PeaceJam, which is lead by Nobel Peace Prize winners. PeaceJam UK is also supported by Co-operative Regional Membership.

In previous years teachers and youth workers have reported how the PeaceJam event in Bradford had changed the perspective and aspirations of young people from some of the most challenging backgrounds.

Tickets for the talk by Betty Williams, entitled 'Community based solutions to threats of violence', which takes place on Friday 4 March at 5pm in the Great Hall, Richmond Building, at the University, are available for free.

1 March 11

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Further information for Media Enquirers

For further information please contact the University of Bradford Press Office on 01274 23 3089/3084.

Out of office hours call 07879 437996. Alternatively, e-mail or fax on (01274) 236280.