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PINNING THEIR HOPES ON PEACE

At Moton Elementary and around the world, a simple child's toy is used to convey a message.

Hundreds of pinwheels spun brightly at Moton Elementary School, planted as far out as the school entrance.

The colorful toy show joined hundreds of other pinwheel displays worldwide to celebrate the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21.

"We (had) about 800 pinwheels outside," said 12-year art teacher Jodi Platt, 38, who coordinated the effort. She heard about the Pinwheels for Peace Project, which was started in 2005 by two Coconut Creek teachers, from an art education source.

On their Web site, pinwheelsforpeace.com, the founding teachers refer to the millions of spinning toys as "whirled peace."

Platt worked with prekindergarten through fifth-grade children, discussing with them a peaceful world and the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. She brought the conversation home when she talked to the children about how they treat each other at school and how to make more positive choices.

"This is Moton Elementary School's way of promoting peace in our world," Platt said. "It's like a public statement that we'd like to have peace in our world."

Part of the process was instructing students about how to make a pinwheel. "I made them with bamboo skewers," she said, "then they can take them home to put outside in their yards."

The pinwheels were constructed with card stock paper in different colors. "They decorated both sides," she said, "so their artwork is on it." Some older students put words of peace or symbols on theirs.

The reason for using pinwheels, Platt said, is the symbolism. "The pinwheel is considered a childhood toy," she said. "It's supposed to take us back to when times were simpler."

When the toys were all done and put into the ground, Platt exclaimed how she felt about the display. "I just think they're beautiful. Absolutely beautiful."

Fast facts

- Pinwheels for Peace is an art installation project begun in 2005 by art teachers Ann Ayers and Ellen McMillan of Monarch High School in Coconut Creek.

- The first Pinwheels for Peace were installed on Sept. 21, 2005. About 500,000 pinwheels planted the first year grew to 2 million in 2008.

Pinwheelsforpeace.com

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