(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) The Kuwait-America Foundation (KAF) in partnership with the National Campaign to Stop Violence (NCSV) hosted a dinner on Tuesday in the honor of 50 middle school students from across the US who have made a commitment to speaking out against violence.
The dinner, dubbed "Dare the Difference", paid homage to the youngsters who had taken part in "Do the Write Thing Challenge", a programme which gives middle school students an opportunity to examine the impact of violence on their lives in classroom discussions and in written form.
Primarily sponsored by KAF, it has established itself as a successful programme aimed at reducing youth violence in schools and communities across the US by giving middle schools students an opportunity to write about what they can do as individuals to break the cycle of violence in their schools, neighborhoods and homes.
This year, some 65,000 essays were submitted by students all across the US, with 50 of these students picked to come to Washington to celebrate their accomplishments.
In an exclusive interview with KUNA, KAF Chair Dr. Hassan Al-Ibrahim said "the amazing thing is that some of those students have never been on an airplane or even to Washington DC.
"For the last 19 years (since this project was launched) we have touched the lives of 1.5 million children in the US, now the challenge is to increase the number of cities," he added.
Essays that these students wrote are "very moving that bring tears to your eyes, where the philosophy behind this project is that children should express themselves and what they can do to have a better life."
Dr. Al-Ibrahim affirmed that KAF aims for peace and harmony accross schools "all over" and his message for the years to come is for those children to "never give up. Life is not easy and you have to fight to have harmony and peace in your environment."
He also noted to the programme's contribution towards Kuwait's accomplishing "the aim of having a grass root relationshiwith the US."
The students visited the Library of Congress, where they submitted their essays which were put in a book, making them "now young authors" in the Library of Congress, he said.
The students then visited the Supreme Court, where during that trip, Justice Anthony Kennedy dropped by and talked to them. This was considered by Al-Ibrahim as a "great honor."
For her part, ABC News contributor and author Claire Shipman said in remarks to the children "you have shown a tremendous amount of courage in writing these essays," describing them as "brave" for their endeavours.
"There is so much power in story telling. Your efforts will not go unnoticed," she added.
Shipman reminded them, that "it takes a great deal of confidence to stand up for yourself and for other people."
She told them "what you have already accomplished will help you in ways you can't even see now - what you're doing is extraordinary."
She emphasized "all of you should be aware of the unbelievable potential that each and every one of you has because you have already, at such a young age, stood up in the face of adversity and dared to make a difference by breaking the cycle of violence in your lives.
"As you grow older you will be faced with a multitude of challenges - but risk, struggle and suffering and eventually mastering and learning is all an essential process to building resilience and confidence," she remarked.
"Those qualities will help you achieve anything," she added.
Guests at the dinner included Sheikh Dr. Mohammad Al-Sabah, who is a member on KAF Board of Trustees, Fawzi Al-Sultan who is also a member on the Board of Trustees, the wife of Kuwait's Ambassador to the US Sheikha Rima Al-Sabah and Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Kuwait Abdulaziz Al-Qadfan.
The KAF mission expressed gratitude for the American efforts during the Gulf War, it desrcibed as a "sacrifice", and a deed that has contributed to the strengthening of ties among the peoples of the two countries.