Walk for Values
The Walk for Values is a non-monetary annual walkathon to raise awareness for human values. Walk for Values began at the Sathya Sai School in Scarborough, Ontario in 2003. It has since grown into an international event.
Walk for Values is a walkathon in which no money is solicited, "instead, people are asked to pledge to try to live up to one or more of the human values in their lives" in the hope one "will make the world richer by giving (one's) commitment to practice values, and character-building."
"By walking together as kindred spirits, we can achieve two things: we can raise awareness of positive human values such as love, truth, non-violence and peace; and more importantly, we can bring attention to the urgent need to practice them in our community and halt the social and environmental ills that impoverish our lives and our spirit."
Values advocated by Walk for Values
- Love: caring, compassion, forgiveness, enthusiasm, devotion.
- Peace: contentment, humility, patience, self-confidence, self-respect.
- Truth: honesty, integrity, optimism.
- Non-Violence: gentleness, consideration, co-operation, equality, cultural respect.
- Right-Conduct: gratitude, perseverance, determination, responsibility, sacrifice, courage, duty and ethics.
"The Walk for Values is a non-monetary walk designed to promote individual responsibility towards the collective future of humanity, one step at a time. This unique initiative is part of a global drive to seed the consciousness with global affirmations such as love, hope, optimism, consideration, kindness, patience, honesty, integrity, forgiveness, acceptance, charity, volunteerism.... It calls for an honest self-appraisal from its participants who then identify one area of personal growth that needs to be strengthened and then pledge the needed self-improvement."
The Walk for Values "began in 2003 as a little walk with barely 300 participants" in Malvern, a community in the north-east end of Toronto. "2003 was a year filled with violence and sadness for Malvern. It was an area synonymous with gun violence and gangs, and these unsettling trends showed little sign of abatement. It was in that spirit, as well as in the broader spirit of community that the seed of the idea for Walk for Values began at the Sathya Sai School in Markham, Ontario." The walk "had nothing whatsoever to do with money, and simply existed to foster a sense of community and bring about an overall change in the world."
In 2004, "the participants made personal promises to change the world around them by changing themselves first. Everyone had to select a human value of their choice which they would make a part of their personal crusade to self-improve. The organizers presented a plaque to the City of Toronto on behalf of the participants giving their pledge." "Corporal Wakisan, who led a team from Canadian Forces in uniform, was so impressed by the function that he promised to bring over 100 officers for next year's walk." The walk was also held in 8 other Canadian cities, including Calgary, Ottawa and Vancouver.
"At the third annual Walk for Values, in 2005, of the Sathya Sai School, friends of the school turned up in unprecedented numbers to walk." The walk was "led by Superintendent of the 42 Division of the Toronto Police Force, Superintendent Tony Warr and City Councillor Raymond Cho." Increased participation by community groups, politicians as well as the recognition by local police, added to the local success of the walk. "Supt Warr, on behalf of the Toronto Chief of Police, congratulated the participants on joining a very symbolic event which aims to restore peace and order in the neighborhood that has witnessed violence, gangs and drugs." "Edmonton hosted their very first Walk for Values on June 25, 2005."
In 2006, "apart from the grand event held in Toronto, 13 other Canadian cities 'walked the values talk,' to express their support for the universal human values." In Toronto, "participants included Honorable Harinder Takhar, Minister of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, MPP Bas Balkissoon, City Councilor Raymond Cho and many community leaders who believed in raising the Character of the City." MPP Bas Balkissoon, in a message to the Ontario Provincial Legislature stated, "this walk has become a trailblazer for cities across Canada, 12 of which held their own Walk for Values on the same date." The city of Edmonton and the cities of Regina and Saskatoon declared May 28, 2006 as Human Values Day.
In Toronto as of 2007, the Walk for Values shifted location, moving from Malvern to downtown Toronto. The fifth annual walk began at Yonge-Dundas Square and went through over 2 km of downtown city streets. A new multi-cultural festival began after the completion of the walk, with dance performances by groups representing China, Ireland, Russia, Spain, Egypt and India. In Yonge-Dundas Square, "a variety of food stalls, a Food Bank collection booth, exhibits on Value Parenting, henna tattoos, handicrafts, face painting and games for children" were organized. "Over 18 community groups as well as students from several public schools in the York Region took part." This was also the first walk that drew media attention, hosting such stations as CFRB, ATN and Rogers.
It was also in 2007 that the walk started on an international scale. In Australia, "the Walk was held nationally in cities such as Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney." While in the United States, Boston and Albany, New York held walks.
The 2008 Walk for Values in Toronto continued to grow with the participation of additional community groups, media outlets and representatives from all levels of government. Messages and praise came from the Mayor of Toronto; David Miller, Provincial Minister (MPP); Bas Balkissoon and the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper. Over 6000 people joined the walk in Toronto. Australia held Walk for Values in 6 cities (including Canberra and Perth), while three US cities also participated. In St. Louis,MO the walk was sponsored by the St. Louis City Health Department, PBS, and the Salvation Army.
In 2009, Walk for Values took place in 9 Canadian cities (Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton), New Zealand, Malaysia, Australia (6 cities including Sydney, Adelaide, Perth) and 5 cities in the United States (New York City, Seattle, Dallas). Malaysia was the first country in Asia to successfully organise the internationally recognised Walk for Values. "The Walk for Values has spread around the world after starting in Toronto" in 2003. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper commended all those who walked "for their commitment to making a difference in the world."
In 2009, the international walk also adopted a "Go Green" message. In Malaysia, "the aim is to promote love, peace, the right conduct and non-violent behaviour towards the environment, among children and the youth... honouring Mother Earth on Mother's Day (the walk was held on Mother's Day)"
The 2009 Walk for Values stated two goals, "raise awareness of positive human values such as love, truth, non-violence and peace; and bring attention to the urgent need to practice them in our community and halt the social and environmental ills that plague our lives." "A number of businesses (also) joined as community partners and pledged to practice values and bring ethics in business." Many other organizations have begun to participate in the event (St. Vincent de Paul, Sant Nirankari Mission, local foodbanks etc...) In Canada approximately 60 additional groups sponsored and supported the walk.
In New York City, the 2009 Walk for Values was called "a human movement forward, a call to attention, a walk to adopt a value for life." "More than 500 individuals participated in the 2nd Annual Walk for Values USA in Battery Park." The walk "proceeded for two miles around the park and through the streets of downtown Manhattan, pausing for two minutes of silence at Ground Zero in memory of all those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001." New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said "this walk urges us all to live in line with our basic humanity," and commended the efforts of the Sathya Sai Organization for "their dedication to building a better world."
On May 2, 2009, the Mayor of Houston declared May 2, 2009 as Walk for Values Day. While in Dallas, the Mayor of Plano, Pat Evans "read aloud the proclamation declaring May 9, 2009 as the Walk for Values Day."
In Auckland, children "lead New Zealand's first "walk for values" up Queen St.", as over 700 people participate in the 50-minute walk. The day ended with 100 walkers donating blood to the local New Zealand Blood Bank. Planning for the 2009 event had begun 18 months earlier in August 2007.
- Values Today, Walk for Values. Toronto Program guide. May 31, 2009. pg 2
- Simon Collins (20 March 2009). "Children to lead 'walk for values' in Queen St". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 10 September 2011.