On May 7, more than 200,000 teens, young people, families and community members in many countries and hundreds of cities will participate in the Run4Unity, a worldwide relay race uniting them across ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds to build peace and plant trees. Co-sponsored by the Laudato si’ Action Platform of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and led by the youth of the Focolare Movement as part of their greater United World Week, the 2023 Run4Unity will focus on the theme “People, Planet and Our Ecological Conversion”.
Participants of all ages will care for their bodies through physical exercise and care for the Earth by having their kilometers ran or minutes of exercise exchanged for trees to be planted across the world.
“To ensure a healthy and livable future for our planet, we must all come together, across faith traditions, cultures, generations and sectors, and commit to concrete actions that safeguard the natural environment and care for the most vulnerable among us. Young people are leading the way through events like Run4Unity, and the Dicastery hopes many people will join their important mission,” says John Mundell, representative of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and Director of the Laudato si’ Action Platform.
How it works
The Run4Unity will kick off in the Fiji Islands—the first time zone to start a new day and an ecologically symbolic country already greatly impacted by climate change. From there, the youth will pass a virtual “baton” from one time zone to the next through a series of video conference calls over the next 24 hours, concluding with communities in California.
Participants will run, jog, walk, or participate in local sporting events, some held at venues symbolic of peace, at borders between countries or communities in conflict, or ecologically significant sites, to bear witness to unity and peace. Among participants will be some of the 1000 Laudato Si’ Schools worldwide, committed to ecological education through the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, as well as groups and schools that are part of the Living Peace Project.
Anyone wanting to join the Run4Unity can register individually or as a group at www.teens4unity.org/run4unity. From there they will be directed to links where they can track kilometers run or minutes of exercise, register the number of trees planted by them or in collaboration with local and international sponsors and organizations, who will ensure long-term care for the trees. And all participants who register a local event will be invited to add it to a calendar on the United World Project website, where people can check it and join.
"Our dream is that Run4Unity 2023 creates a ripple of peace and climate solidarity across the globe! Strengthening bonds between communities in various countries can really open people to commit to peace and taking care of the planet,” said Federico Viara and Fiorella Tassini, coordinators for Teens4Unity’s international headquarters.