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AMERICUS (July 22, 2015) – Georgia Southwestern State University is not just broadening the perspectives of its own students but also for a younger generation, as it recently collaborated with Peacebuilders Camp at Koinonia Farm to provide a day of education and fun for middle school-aged campers on Friday, July 17, 2015.

Peacebuilders Camp at Koinonia Farm is a unique overnight summer camp in rural south Georgia where a diverse group of youth spend a week together learning how to work toward peace and justice. Campers enjoy farm life, play games and sports, go on field trips, learn about human rights, make new friends and explore the stories of peacemakers past and present.

Each day of camp is structured around a section of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Campers learn about the right to equality, the right to fair pay, the right to adequate health care, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the right to adequate housing.

The camp’s focus on peace makes Koinonia Farm the perfect host location.

Koinonia was founded in 1942 in Americus, Ga., with a commitment to treat all humans with dignity and justice. Black and white farmers were paid equally, and everyone was invited to sit at the table, regardless of color. Koinonia remained a witness to nonviolence and racial equality as its members withstood firebombs, bullets, KKK rallies and death threats.

During their visit to GSW, campers heard from Philip Szmedra, professor of economics, and Laura Bauer, director of national initiatives at the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, on topics in both human rights and peacemaking.

Szmedra gave a presentation entitled “The Human Right to Food Security: How Science Gets Us There.” In his presentation, he discussed the right to food expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and how scientific advancements can help increase food production to provide for the growing population.

Bauer spoke to campers about peacemaker Mattie Stepanek. Stepanek was known as an advocate for peace as well as a poet who produced multiple best-selling books of poetry. Stepanek died in 2004 at the age of 13 of dysautonomic mitochondrial myopathy, a fatal neuromuscular disease.

Campers also had the opportunity to eat lunch in the GSW cafeteria and go for a swim in the Deriso Pool.

Session One (ages 11-12) took place July 13-18, and Session Two (ages 13-14) takes place this week, July 20-25, 2015. The camp is primarily funded by individual donors with other funding coming from the Sponsor-a-Camper program, which asks religious communities, organizations and individuals to provide sponsorships and from grants and tuition. Tuition for the camp is on a sliding scale, meaning that each family pays a different amount based on what they are able to afford.

For more information about camp or to donate to the program, visit or contact Jonah McDonald, co-founder & administrative director, at or 404-373-8036.

szmedra presents to campers

 Photo: Szmedra speaking to campers about food security


ice cream at GSW

 Photo: Campers enjoying ice cream in the GSW Dining Hall

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