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Cheerleaders are entertaining the students during the declaration of school peace in Kaisaniemi Park in Helsinki, Finland on August 24, 2017. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

“There are still far too many pupils who experience bullying and only a fraction tells about it in school or elsewhere. Is this really what we want?” asked a pupil reading the declaration of school peace in English for thousands of students from the comprehensive schools around Helsinki, who had summoned to Kaisaniemi Park on Thursday morning to celebrate the beginning of the semester in a peaceful environment.

The theme of the year is ambitious: everyone should have the right to dream and be in peace.

The declaration of the year emphasizes the importance of taking notice of others. “What if we together make school a place where everyone can feel important and where one can pursue one’s dreams. We all can influence the atmosphere in the school. Everyone has the right to feel important and everyone should have no issue in voicing their opinions,” the boy reading the declaration said. “New ideas can be found in everyone’s mind.”

Paralympic gold medalist Leo-Pekka Tähti spoke to the students about the importance of respect for others. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

The school peace has been declared in Finland annually since the beginning of the ‘90s to give an uplifting start to the beginning of school semester throughout the nation. Each year, the event is arranged in different cities. The event is organized by the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare, Finnish National Agency for Education and the National Police Board, among others.

“If there was no bullying, everyone could concentrate on school and could get better grades and maybe even a better future. Let’s oppose bullying bravely together and defend those who are bullied,” the boy said.

Thousands of students cheered for school peace. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today