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After Sikh Temple Shooting, Organization Promotes Social Peace Among Students

The tragic shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin one year ago ignited an organization to form to help prevent future tragedies from happening.

Satwant Singh Kaleka, the President of the temple, was a victim that day. His sons Amardeep and Pardeep Kaleka serve on the board of a new organization,  Serve 2 Unite.

Serve 2 Unite works with students to teach them the importance of social peace and working together to prevent malicious behavior in the community, ranging from daily crime in Milwaukee to mass shootings.

Pardeep Kaleka, a Serve 2 Unite founder, saw that there was a lot of diversity within the community and that they did not understand each other. Serve 2 Unite will help “find themes of similarity amongst different groups and make them see those and to understand each other’s humanity.”

Serve 2 Unite feel that the schools are more focused on teaching students to be better test takers than better citizens. The organization has paired up with Arts at Large to have students learn to express their emotions through art. Together, they are collaborating with Milwaukee Public Schools to enrich their citizenship curriculum.

Arts at Large co-founder Teri Sullivan sees many benefits to creating student leadership chapters within the Milwaukee Public Schools:

“Creating student leadership chapters in the Milwaukee Public Schools, the students become the leaders," says Sullivan. "The students identify the issues, they look at their own school environment, their own climate, their own neighborhoods, and find those issues that they can respond to.”

Sullivan found that when a student’s emotional intelligence is high, their academic intelligence is also high. For example, if a child is being bullied in the playground, that has a higher chance of affecting their concentration.

The program and curriculum will make students lifelong agents of social change and peace. By giving them the artistic tools, the students are allowed to take charge of how they want to explore their feelings. Originally, Serve 2 Unite only supplied schools with resources, but this year they are piloting an actual lesson plans for teachers to incorporate into their curriculum.

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.