One America Community Efforts
Little Bar

Program: City at Peace, Washington, D.C.
Contact(s): Rose M. Wheeler, Executive Director: (202) 529-2828
Purpose: To work with young people from diverse backgrounds to develop the skills to cope with growing up in an urban society

Background Program Operations Outcomes


City at Peace was created in 1994 in response to the crisis of drugs, violence, and racism affecting some of the young people in America. The program grew out of a similar organization, Peace Child, which was devoted to fostering peace and friendship between the youth of opposing Cold War nations. With the fall of the Cold War, however, urban crises arose as the major social concern. Since its inception, City at Peace has trained hundreds of teenagers in conflict resolution, negotiation skills and leadership principles, and has encouraged them to adopt these principles into their lives and relationships as positive alternatives to violence. About 70% of the participants are non-white.

Program Operations

Each year, City at Peace produces a musical play based on struggles in the lives of its participants. It recruits a diverse group of approximately 130 teenagers from all over the D.C. area to participate in its weekend and after-school programs to rehearse for the play. Participants vary in racial and socio-economic background. Guidance from expert staff combines theater training, improvisation, singing and dancing. Equally important, the program teaches cross-cultural respect and understanding, conflict-resolution skills, positive peer support and other tools of leadership for dealing with the complexities of growing up in a modern urban environment. As the youth participate in the program, they share the stories of their lives with one another. Performances begin after about six months. Participants perform at local schools, community centers, and a major D.C. venue.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

City at Peace produces two musical productions per year. The program has enabled intimate trust, understanding and relationships to form among youth. Since its inception in 1994, it has performed for over 50,000 audience members across the United States. It has been featured in The Washington Post, ABC news' "Nightline", and has been recognized for its excellence by the executive director and president of The National Theater, located in Washington, D.C. In the spring of 1998, a feature length, documentary film on City at Peace will be released.

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