Diploma Programme (DP) student Rena Kawasaki, a senior at Osaka International School of Kwansei Gakuin, is awarded the prestigious International Children's Peace Prize for 2022 by the KidsRights foundation for her pioneering work to get more young people to participate in politics, the environment and society.
The KidsRights Expert Committee selected Rena Kawasaki as a winner out of 175 candidates from 46 countries. She received the prize during the 18th International Children's Peace Prize Ceremony, which took place in The Hague, the Netherlands, on Monday 14 November.
“I am honored to receive the International Children’s Peace Prize for 2022. As previous winners have done before me, I hope to use this platform to improve children's rights around the world by creating programs for young leaders suited to each country's specific needs. Those young leaders will then have the skills and tools they need to advocate for children’s rights in their country."
"My own education, studying the PYP, MYP and DP at Osaka International School of Kwansei Gakuin, encouraged me to think critically, and to look beyond the world as it is, with its inequality, discrimination, and entrenched interests, and to think about what it could and should be. We were also encouraged to lead, to contribute, and to believe that we can make a difference. I hope my example can inspire other IB students worldwide to realize what is possible, and that together, we can start changing the world one small step at a time”, said Rena Kawasaki.
The International Children's Peace Prize is an initiative of the international children's rights organisation KidsRights and is awarded annually to a child who fights courageously for children's rights. Previous prize winners include environmental activist Greta Thunberg and Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai.
At the age of 14, Rena started 'Earth Guardians Japan' an organization that aims to connect young people and schools with local political representatives. The aim was to encourage young people to become more involved in politics and society. Her organization also focuses on environmental projects, such as cleaning water in the local river at Juso, Osaka, Japan.
“We are delighted for Rena that her remarkable efforts advocating for children’s rights, in particular a voice in current political debates, is receiving the recognition and global audience it deserves. A student at Osaka International School of Kwansei Gakuin for thirteen years, Rena epitomizes the IB’s learner outcomes and our school mission as a student who is ‘informed, caring, creative, and contributing to the global community’ Rena’s selfless work on issues ranging from environmental protection to minority rights in Japan and across the world is an inspiration to students everywhere, and we look forward to seeing what she will tackle and achieve next with the added support of the KidsRights Organization and the Rise for the World Organization behind her”, noted Mr Stephen Frater, K-12 Principal for Student Learning, Osaka International School of Kwansei Gakuin.
Rena's work to include young people's voices in governmental operations by providing direct access to political representatives has led to her inclusion within the government's major Tokyo Bay Environmental Social Governance infrastructure project, which aims to create a sustainable city affecting the lives of 37 million people. She also created a QR code to ensure that young people's voices are incorporated into governmental decisions. This idea was adopted by the Mayor of Niihama and will impact the city's entire population. She was also recently appointed as the youngest ever Chief Future Officer for a bio-fuelled jet company in Japan.
Photo courtesy of © KidsRights 2022