Defense Against the Dark Arts

A Peacemaking Project by Brody O.

What is the injustice we are solving?

My school, and others surrounding us, have lost most or all of their art affiliated programs. We have lost our art class, music class, choir, band, plays, and other productions. There recently has been some interest with bringing drama club back. In order to bring art back, we have to fight our greatest enemy: the Dark Arts. The administration of our school has not made a move on any art program since their disbandment over five years ago. It is time we learn how to defend ourselves against the Dark Arts and get creativity back to future generations.

Our Compassionate Solution:

To solve this injustice of depression and other problems relating to internalizing
we will address lack of funding and art progams
by creating a program centered around letting kids express themselves through art.

Our Updates:


Brody O. 31 October 2017 11:06 Our county, Hardin, is the least populated county in Illinois. Southern Illinois has been in a bit of a strangle hold with the drainage of money to the arts. I am going to a school board meeting to talk about it. Beyond that, my chapter has been selling paintings made by students of the school. Being without five years of formal education in art, some of them look pretty rough. Nearly all have been sold so far and the reception to our campaign has been sparkling. We have sold 22 paintings.

Free Expression Hour

Brody O. 8 December 2017 10:58 I talked to the superintendent and principal. My chapter is going to help me set up a presentation over my idea to help bring back the arts. We are going to try to bring a Free Expression Hour during study hall. We have all the art supplies and a room that we can use. I just need to convince the administration to hire a teacher for an hour a day to watch over the operations. 

Posters and Donations

Brody O. 8 December 2017 11:21 Our chapter is currently making personalized posters that have witty quotes about the arts. We are putting these in shops around town with a donation jar. We already have a couple businesses willing to participate. While I do not expect a lot of money to go into a donation jar like that, we are doing so many I expect we will end up with a good sum by the end. We will use this money to fund our dinner and a show. 

A Generous Man

Brody O. 13 December 2017 11:20 In this past week, a man who started a crowdfunding page for the drama club came to present the check. The drama club received much more than the monetary donation of $1100. He said he worked for a theatre and wanted to help us put on a production of our own. I told him about our free expression hour and how my chapter would love to help fund this performance. He was a former student of the same school and told us all about what we used to have. We held this event in the band room--a place of dust, rust, and the past. Finally, it felt like we had a way to get that place back to its original condition. This donation to the drama club will help the arts come back. 

School Board Meetings Eve

Brody O. 22 January 2018 11:10 Tomorrow is the school board meeting where they will vote on my Free Expression Hour idea. I have good feelings about this. I have a teacher willing to volunteer for the hour and I have the place to have it in mind. My chapter is willing to fund it and we have extra art supplies here. I have made a five minute presentation over it. Wish me luck!

Fine Arts Hour Passed

Brody O. 8 March 2018 15:41 It has been a few days since the board meeting and things have finally calmed down enough for me to write about this. I went to the meeting and talked nervously for a few minutes, stammering on lines, and they stopped me, unanimously saying yes to my decision. I could tell that they had thought it over beforehand. This was huge and I could not stop smiling the rest of the night. We have so much to do before next year. There is cleaning up the place where we are holding it, securing funds for the program, and buying all of the materials. I will make sure to update more often on this. 


Adrian B.
5 April 2018 12:59

Hi Brody,

We wanted to let you know that we are extending the deadline for active projects to apply for a Mini-Grant during this Peace First Challenge to April 15th. You can apply for a mini-grant anytime, but meeting the Challenge deadlines will make you eligible for additional opportunities.

If you do not require a mini-grant to complete your project, you can remain eligible for the Accelerator by completing your project and Reflection before the May 31st deadline! If you submit your project plan by April 15th, we'll be sure to provide you with feedback by April 21st to support you with carrying out the plan.

If you are still in early stages of planning, you are also welcome to apply for a mini-grant at a later date -- although you may not be eligible for an Accelerator, the opportunity for funding and support is always there.

Please let me know if you have any questions, and if we can support your project in any way! :)


Adrian B.
28 March 2018 18:40

Hi Brody,

We're excited to hear more about your ideas to address this important injustice! I wanted to let you know about an opportunity -- if you are interested in getting some funding for materials that you need to carry out your project, you can apply for mini-grant of up to $250.

The deadline to submit your Project Plan and Mini-Grant Application is March 31st if you want to remain eligible to apply to attend a Peace First Accelerator.

As you craft your plan, be sure to consider the feedback we gave you on your compassionate insight, and check out our project planning tools for help turning your insight into a concrete action plan:

Then, through your dashboard you can make any changes you want to make to your "compassionate insight," record your plan in "Make a plan" and then "Apply for a mini-grant" for the materials you need.

Let us know if you have questions. We're looking forward to supporting your project!


Kelsey T.
20 February 2018 16:55

Hi Brody! I’m part of the Peace First team and wanted to provide you with Feedback for your Compassionate Insight. We provide insight feedback to help teams further strengthen their ideas as they head into the plan phase.

First of all, thanks for submitting your wonderful insight! This is such an interesting project with a lot of potential and I'm excited to hear how it goes. I think your insight is really compelling and very compassionate. I think the link that you've discovered between mental health and having opportunities to express oneself is a really important one -- and I love that it is reflected in your insight. One thing to consider, is that depression is a really big issue with many causes -- some of which are internal to the person. While I can see the link you are making, a lack of funding for art programs is probably not directly a major root cause of depression itself -- but rather something that can contribute to the overall lack of wellbeing for a person coping with depression. I think your insight might be even stronger if you narrowed down the injustice you are working on to better represent the scope of your project. For example, while not having an opportunity to participate in an art program probably does not cause depression, it does create an additional barrier for folks who are living with depression to find coping mechanisms. Does that distinction make sense?
It might be clearer if you changed the way you articulate the injustice just slightly -- perhaps focusing on a lack of resources or opportunities for people coping with mental health issues to process their feelings.
 It sounds like your thinking around how to articulate the injustice you are working on has shifted from when you first posted your description about your injustice (from a lack of funding for art programs to depression and other problems related to internalizing.) You may want to update your original description of your injustice at the top of your project page a bit to help people understand what you are doing in more depth -- and how these two concepts -- mental health issues and a lack of art funding is connected in your thinking.
As I said, I think this is a fantastic project -- you've definitely done some great digging into why funding for the arts is so important and I'm excited to hear about the impact that you are able to make! Keep up the good work.  

RaulPF C.
13 December 2017 14:48

Great to see all of your updates!  

Fish S. Peace First Staff
8 December 2017 13:28

Nice updates, Brody! Keep on going!  

Brody O.
21 November 2017 11:19

I think it takes away something vital for everyone. The teachers do not get to see the creativity of the students. The students are not able to express themselves. The parents have to deal with what the students internalize. I think that not having the arts make students more likely to act out in class. I am certain that it makes the school a hotbed for depression and anxiety. Extracurriculars save lives. They keep kids out of unsafe living situations. They allow expression. I think that this issue goes much deeper than putting on plays and singing.  

Fish S. Peace First Staff
9 November 2017 10:25

Sounds like a plan, Brody. I like the problem you've identified -- that funding for extracurriculars is sparse, except for sports. I think a big next step will be to tell the story of how this is an injustice. Is it affecting some groups of people at your school more than others? Is it harmful -- or taking away something really beneficial -- to students? Looking forward to seeing what you come up with here.  

Brody O.
8 November 2017 18:28

Funding for anything that isn't sports at the school is complicated. The majority of the other stuff exist because it is an every day effort to keep them open. People have to care, put in time, and fund raise. In order to get people talking, we need to start advertising. Once we find out what sort of production we can do, I will be on the journey of advertisement. Beyond that, the funding is dry. I am going to apply for a mini grant to possibly help us out. Wish us luck!  

Fish S. Peace First Staff
8 November 2017 10:23

A full scale production! That sounds awesome. Is the idea that the production will bring attention to the lack of art education? Other injustices, too? How can we help with this?  

Brody O.
6 November 2017 11:26

We are talking about possibly having a full scale production. We would like to use this platform as a way to showcase our other issues we are for. We would like to put on something with a leading minority and a message that will resonate with our community.  

Brody O.
6 November 2017 11:25

At the meeting, it seemed to be the general consensus that this is our main issue. No one has tried this before. I have gotten a couple people to start on posters that will be put up around the county. In order to really tackle this issue, I am splitting groups up to focus on smaller facets of the overall issue while I look over it all. We are wanting to put on a full scale production. Many of our members are leaders for reforming parts of the school and have started clubs here. I am confident that my bright group will help bring this to fruition.  

Abigail S.
5 November 2017 10:04


Nice work! I love how you took a stance and became a leader in your community by selling artwork, keep up the great work!

If you keep up the momentum, this would be a great thing to show to the school board. Since your meeting already took place, could you tell us how that went? I think it would be great to share their thoughts on bringing back the Art's to the school to really help you and your project succeed.


Fish S. Peace First Staff
2 November 2017 13:08

That's great that you have a team on board. Beyond speaking at the board meeting, how else will you raise awareness about the injustice? How can we help?  

Brody O.
1 November 2017 15:16

We have 12 students of our school system in the Southern Illinois Seekers. I have told all of them to spread some talk about our campaign. At our meeting today, I am having a couple of members make posters about our campaign. It will detail where to donate and what our campaign is about.  

Fish S. Peace First Staff
1 November 2017 13:59

Brody, thanks for the update! I love that you are going to a school board meeting to talk about the issue. That's a great way to make sure people in power know about the problem. How are other students involved in your work?  

Fish S. Peace First Staff
1 November 2017 13:58

Awesome. And we look forward to hearing what your next step is!


Brody O.
25 October 2017 10:58

Thank you for the reply! This is such a large and overlooked issue that I am looking forward to bringing into the light for everyone to see.


Fish S. Peace First Staff
24 October 2017 19:36

Brody! Thanks for posting your project. Awesome to hear a little more about it.

Sounds like an important issue you've identified. I'm excited to see you dive in deeper. What are the consequences of restricting arts programs? Who's affected the most? And what are some of the reasons it might happen? These are all questions you can answer -- and they'll help you think about what to do next.

Check out this tool, for instance -- it might help you get started:

Any questions for us? What can we help with?

Andrea C. Peace First Staff
31 January 2019 16:10

Hi Brody,

How are you? Just one more step to get a mini-grant for up to $250! You are so close to implement your project and address the injustices in your community! :)

I noticed you hadn’t made any updates lately and I wonder if you have any question on how to fill out the mini-grant application. I am here to help you! I am hoping to hear from you soon so I can process your mini-grant and send the check your way.