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Colors of love and peace

June 29, 2009 |  5:06 pm

Students at 186th Street Elementary School in Gardena like to call themselves peacemakers because part of their curriculum focuses on creating safe classrooms, and each year they embark on a peace march spreading their message of love and respect throughout the community.

Now that message will be shared with children around the world through copies of a book called "Colors of Love and Peace," a collection of student artwork and messages of inspiration that will be distributed to children’s hospitals nationally and internationally.

The book project received a send-off today at a news conference and signing aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach attended by student artists, teachers and community leaders, including Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), who promised to hand-deliver a box of the books to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

The project was the brainchild of artist and poet Fereidun Shokatfard, whose wife is a special education teacher at the school. About 5,000 books have been printed, said 186th Street Principal Marcia Sidney-Reed. Included with the book is a CD with songs from the International Children’s Choir of Long Beach. One unique feature is the forward written by the Dalai Lama, who called the book "a delightful and inspiring project."

The children said their artwork and messages came from the heart. Third-grader Shirley Gomez’s tempera paint and construction-paper work titled "Lions" shows a proud red beast wearing a green crown against a pastoral background, with the message "The lion protects the jungle and the doctor will protect you."

-- Carla Rivera