2015 Public Peace Prize Finalist
in the Internationally-Reputed Peacemaker category
Nina Meyerhof is the founder of Children of the Earth (COE), a worldwide organization that inspires, connects, and empowers youth working for peace both locally and globally. A school administrator with a doctorate in Educational Policy, Research and Administration focused on self-esteem, Nina worked as Vermont’s Special Education District Coordinator for 17 years and wanted to put her philosophies into action. In 1970, she established Heart’s Bend, a values-oriented children’s summer camp on her 120-acre farm that she ran for 30 years. She became deeply inspired by youth-led action resulting from empowered youth that she worked with. In time, she came to recognize the need for children’s voices to be present in world forums, and in 1990, founded Children of the Earth (COE), a UN NGO non-profit organization. Its mission was to offer young people around the world an opportunity to realize that personal empowerment leads to inner peace that then fosters outer peace.
Launching COE transformed Nina’s career and she has since become a foremost educator and pioneer in uniting global consciousness among the world’s youth. Nina’s innovative work in peace and sustainability through educational methodologies has reached young people in over 60 countries, and continues to grow.
Nina co-authored the book, Conscious Education: The Bridge to Freedom; developed a one of a kind handbook entitled, Pioneering Spiritual Activism, grounded in methodologies that she created – Reflect, Connect, Act, which constitutes a learning process designed to consolidate spiritual growth and societal actions. Nina is also recognized among educators for having developed two constructs called Conflict-Transcendence, which goes beyond conflict resolution and Lateral Leadership Governance Structure for working in groups.
COE youth have formed Social Action Chapters and Spirit Youth Hubs in over 30 countries that focus on local peace initiatives, environmental concerns, educational programs, economic opportunities and spiritual development. COE sends out an online bi-monthly newsletter detailing the organization’s activities and individual youth stories to over 7,000 people. COE youth projects have reached over 15,000 individuals and COE chapter and hub members are active on social media sites. COE has been bringing youth together for 23 years, providing community and networking opportunities to young leaders who are committed to positive global changes; and this work continues to grow. COE’s goal is to support and link a network of young leaders as a global family committed to actualizing their personal intention, becoming inspired to altruism and weaving a web that bridges all personal, cultural, national and religious divides.
At the age of 71, Nina is still building her legacy by launching the next phase of COE.
Throughout her journey, she has developed, published and put into practice, educational models and training materials grounded in spiritually-based consciousness for peaceful, ethical living, youth-led action and leadership for a better world for all.
The key, critical moment that, for Nina, transitioned her life and work with Children of the Earth into high-gear, was September 11, 2001. On that day, Nina was in attendance at the International Day of Peace at the United Nations. When tragedy unfolded amidst the chaos, debris and terrorizing uncertainty, Nina had only one thought: “We need to take care of the children…” Nina resolutely focused in on the center of chaos and the needs of the children. She headed towards Ground Zero and with indefatigable determination presented her UN badge and entered the nearby Armory Building. She immediately she put out calls for help. Confusion, panic and fear were all pervasive as people desperately sought information about their loved ones. Within 24 hours Nina and others set up the ‘Kids Korner’ in the Armory Building, designated for people and their children to sit, access services, information and receive comfort. Donations of essential items poured in, along with items of comfort such as teddy bears, which Nina saw both children and adults cling to. The comfort the bears gave became the source of inspiration for COE’s ongoing Teddy Bear Project, where teddy bears were delivered to orphaned children in areas of devastation such as Haiti, New Orleans, Indonesia and Rwanda.
The impact of Nina’s work is seen far and wide around the world. The Children of the Earth organization is one of many avenues Nina has worked to help transform human consciousness for over two decades. Nina’s book has been translated in 5 different languages. Her educational curriculum for peace, multicultural, global and spiritual models have been delivered throughout the world. She has held workshops, seminars, and training sessions on her innovative teaching for youth and adults around the world. She has served on global efforts such as the drafting of the Universal Peace Declaration of Costa Rica and is a Council member of the Evolutionary Leaders to purposely serve conscious evolution, and which includes members like Neale Donald Walsh, Deepak Chopra, Michael Bernard Beckwith and Barbara Marx Hubbard.
During the last year, Nina, Children of the Earth staff and supporters have been working on the development and launching of a conscious evolution movement called, The Global Heart for Oneness Movement. The Movement seeks to catapult a shift in humanity’s consciousness
and transform our world into a peaceful and sustainable planet – and for young people to know
that the mind and heart can be integrated. COE is placing a call to action for 180 Million youth
from around the world to join the Movement to unite in daily mindfulness and mediation, and
take inspired altruistic actions to create positive change. In order to activate the tipping point
and shift the collective consciousness among the world’s 1.8 Billion individuals ages 15 to 30,
only 10% need to come to the awareness that they hold the power to positively change our world.
Nina believes that the 21st Century holds the greatest possibilities for an integrated peaceful and prosperous global community from among the hearts and minds our world’s youth.
COE’s targeted group, the Millennial Generation, is inheriting a host of global problems, which
solutions will require a higher calling of inner reflection and positive action. Nina recognizes
that this generation has the distinct advantage of harnessing advanced technologies and new
sciences to make a conscious jump in evolution; they simply need the space and support to make it happen. COE, through this Movement, will hold the space for young people to evolve our world on a massive scale.
In closing, while Nina’s story is one of true global leadership, stories of action from youth that she has inspired is truly remarkable. Here is a sampling of youth projects and global forums Nina brought youth groups to, respectively.
- Peter from Uganda developed a beekeeping teaching project for women in his village. His business is now becoming a sustainable source of income for the community.
- Ashfaque from Pakistan, learned meditation in Thailand, returned home and shared his experience with others by meditating in a local park. He befriended a woman who was blinded when lye was thrown in her face. Instead of using money he was saving for a trip to the US, Ashfaque gave it to the woman so she could go to the hospital. Nina publicized his story, which inspired a donor to sponsor his trip.
- Mark from Toronto, hosts a monthly youth spirituality meeting inviting teachers from other religions (Catholic, Buddhist, Native etc.) to share as they practice their own religion.
- Vandy from Sierra Leone, attended the 1990 International Leadership Program at Heart’s Bend Camp. He was later awarded the Human Rights Award at the Hague Appeal for Peace in Holland for organizing youth to drop their weapons and seek peace. He is now a COE Board Member.
- Jimmy from Nepal, built an educational center and 12 schools with a grant that serves both boys and girls in remote mountain regions where children didn’t have schools or the schools had been destroyed by bombs. Christian from the Philippines, whose father died in a typhoon, secured school supplies to share with impoverished children. After school, the children plant trees for reforestation to prevent future mudslides.
- Lawrence from Ghana witnessed his father’s murder, later met the killer in a refugee camp and forgave him. Lawrence helped establish The Apeadu Children’s Peace Center in Ghana that brings young people together to learn peace-building skills. COE will hold a workshop and retreat here in the summer of 2013.
- Nina brought six Katzakhstan youth to present at the Noosphere Conference on Global Ethics;
- a group of spiritual elders to the Dhammakya Meditation Center in Thailand for a celebration attended by 250,000 Buddhists;
- and 25 youths and adults to Nepal for workshops and cultural exchanges.
- She hosted a COE youth forum in Romania to discuss the Gypsy/Romanian issue and self-esteem;
- brought youth leaders to present at the Universal Peace Celebration in Switzerland;
- held a workshop in Jordan on Common Bond MidEast Dialogue, leading Jordanian, Lebanese, Palestinian and Israeli Jews through her process of transcending conflict.
- and, Sudanese refugees and VT high school participated in Youth Leadership Training
and attended the UN International Day of Peace in New York City.
“Nina encourages each and every person to grow as an individual and make the best out of their lives in terms of developing vision, engagement and personal development. She also helps them to develop their authenticity so that they can be real creative, out-of-the box thinking leaders guiding change within their communities.”
“I have never met anyone in my life who believes so fully in the potential of each and every young person. Nina has spent her life weaving an amazing web of friends and contacts, who she is constantly connecting with one another to further different projects for peace and justice. She has the humble yet energizing presence of one who truly knows there purpose in this world.”
“Nina Meyerhof has a compelling vision for the world and has been diligently and tirelessly working for it with and for children and young people in many different parts of the world. I have personally benefitted from these spaces and I can testify they have marked my life and have revealed a path towards inner peace which before was not in my awareness.”
“Mama Nina is a mediator, arbitrator and intermediary who seeks to help us work, not only on our outer selves, but mainly on our inner selves to help establish peace within us.”
“I live a community in Nigeria, West Africa that used to be known for hostility and violent activities but the ethics Nina Meyerhof taught us is a major contribution to the peace we presently enjoy. Nina Meyerhof had also empowered youths in different communities around the world in different skills for self-engagement and self-empowerment which has contributed to creating a better place for the less-privileged.”
“Nina’s approach to peace, leadership by example, and ability to accommodate every strata of society has greatly influenced my lifestyle as well as that of our over 500 youth volunteers. I believe that her efforts, if fully applied in Nigeria will help end the era of terrorism in Nigeria.”
“She is often found at the United Nations and other major social/political institutions and conferences worldwide to give voice to a new future, a new generation of leaders, and to give hope as she brings a spiritual perspective to the pragmatic work at hand. It is because of Nina’s tireless efforts that hundreds if not thousands of youth projects, events, activities, non-profits and businesses have sprung up beautifully and effectively in countries around the world.”
“I am the head of a youth movement in Liberia. We have worked with Nina for the past five years. Working with her has been encouraging and rewarding. Her non-violence method for peace building has helped our young people to live at peace with one another after going through 14 years of war. Today, she is looked at as MAMA because the role she plays in helping them live at with everyone regardless of ethnic differences. Her work is not felt here in Liberia, but in West Africa. She has organized for us many PEACE conferences in our West African region.”