There are some 150,000 teens for unity spread over 182 countries in all the continents of the world. Their aim is to build a united world; they know this is not just a dream; it is the future they want to build. Each one makes it a commitment and tries to bring it about in their daily life, at school, with their family, their friends and in their home town.
This mass movement called Teens for Unity started in 1984 with the Gen 3 (a branch of the Focolare Movement); they share the ideal of fraternity and try to make it happen by following all the possible ‘pathways’, aiming to knock down all barriers of hate and indifference.
They believe in Evangelical Love as the only power capable of changing the world and they try to live out that love, involving their friends and all those around them in the challenge. They are committed to living the Golden Rule: ‘Do to others as you would like them to do to you’, a phrase found in the Bible and in many sacred writings of the world religions. It is a principal shared by many. Living the Golden Rule, in fact ,creates new relationships capable of building peace and universal brotherhood while allowing each one to remain faithful to his or her own faith.
They give witness to their ideal of a united world through meetings and special days they organize, assemblies at school, games, sports events, actions for ecology, all types of demonstrations, etc., using all the means possible, (music, words, art, concrete actions…) to reach out to all their peers.
They are committed to bringing unity where they live by building bridges of unity with those who are different from them because of culture, age, religion, etc. They meet with refugees and immigrants, try to dialogue with all types of people and find a common point of interest with each one, discovering that universal brotherhood starts with getting to know each other on a personal basis and building true relationships.
And that’s how the activity LET’S COLOUR OUR CITY came about. Through concrete actions, the teens for unity commit themselves to coloring the “gray” areas of their towns; places with high levels of poverty, loneliness and social exclusion. Their desire is to make their city a place where everyone can feel ‘at home’. Not only do they get their peers involved, but adults, families and other organizations, as well.
They are builders of peace, on both a personal and collective level, they take part in peace marches, they meet daily in the ‘Time-out’ (every day, all the teens for unity of the world stop whatever they’re doing at 12 noon and observe one minute of silence or prayer for peace), they are protagonists in a whole range of local and global initiatives for peace.
They live the culture of giving: they share what they have (material goods, talents, time) with the other teens for unity around the world, just like in a family where those who have more share with those in need. They have lots of ways of doing this but one particular event is the Spring Fair, where they sell goods and products to raise money to support the “Giving Projects,” micro-realizations in various parts of the world supporting children in need.
With their Schoolmates project, they’ve created a network of schools; classrooms around the globe are in touch and learn about each other’s cultures and how each one is already working to build a united world. They’ve set up a solidarity fund to provide scholarships for peers in countries at war or with great social and economic disadvantage.
How Teens4unity Developed
– 1984 Easter Sunday during a school of formation for gen 3 Chiara Lubich sent a message inviting them to involve as many other teenagers as possible to help build a united world: this was the start of Teens4unity.
– 1985 Chiara launched the ‘pathways for unity’ for all the teens of the world so they could travel together towards a united world. The first one was the red pathway: a planetary communion of goods among all the teens for unity to help those in greatest need and to fill the economic gaps among them.
– 1987 in Castelgandolfo (Rome), the first Supercongress (world-wide meeting of the teens for unity).
– 1987 at the Summit of Leaders of the Great Religions for Peace in Kyoto, Japan Teens4unity presented a pledge with 147,000 signatures of boys and girls from all over the world, as their commitment to building peace. This was the start of the yellow pathway.
– 1988 the European Year of Cinema and Television. Teens for Unity launched ‘TV for a United World’. A message asking that mass media be used to contribute to the building of a united world and signed by 750,000 people was hand-delivered to the European Commission for Cinema and TV, the European Council and the United Nations in New York. Thus the launch of the violet pathway.
– 1990 the first Gulf War was raging when the Time-out was proposed to the whole Focolare Movement. Ever since then, it has been a daily appointment with a moment of silence or prayer asking for the end to all wars.
– 1992 a great growth in the numbers of teens for unity; the second Supercongress saw the participation of 9,000 boys and girls coming from all over the world, showing just how far-reaching this movement had become.
– 1997 the third Supercongress saw the launch of the activity called “Let’s bring our joy to everyone, now!”
– 2000 on the tenth anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, boys and girls from 40 nations took part in the first Conference of Children for the Coming Generation to dialogue on peace and unity in the new millennium. The final document, addressed to the Heads of State of the world, and signed by 200,000 people from around the world was hand-delivered to the United Nations in New York by a small representation of Teens4unity.
– 2002 the fourth Supercongress brought thousands of young people flooding into the streets of Rome, and during the event at the Colosseum, the 10,000 participants showed their commitment to universal brotherhood. There the, Schoolmates project began with the indigo pathway.
– 2005 the green pathway began with the first Run4unity, a relay of sports events across the globe for peace.
– 2008 the second Run4unity involved more than 100,000 young people from many cultures, races and religions. Passing the baton from one time-zone to the next, they showed their commitment to building unity and they spread a symbolic rainbow of peace over the world. 300 cities in 87 countries were involved in the event.
– 2009 the Supercongress took place in India.
International Secretariat of Teens4Unity
Via Frascati, 332
00040 ROCCA DI PAPA – Rome – Italy
Tel. (+39) 06.949 9779
Word of Life: wordteens.focolare.org/en/