Helen Young

At 96 years young, Ms. Young's passions are many.  She is an environmentalist and a lover of nature, but most of all, she is a builder of peace.  Her sister, you see, was the Peace Pilgrim: a woman who felt so strongly about peace that in the 1950s, she gave up her name and walked across the United States collecting signatures for peace to deliver to the United Nations and to the White House.  She carried nothing but a toothbrush, a journal and pen, the clothing on her back, and her determination to spread this message:  "Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love."

Since her sister's untimely death in 1981, Ms. Young continues to promote the same message of peace through her work with the nonprofit Friends of Peace Pilgrim.  Additionally, she lectures at various venues, participates in peace walks and vigils, and entertains guests who want to learn more about the work of the Peace Pilgrim. (While 2 documentaries and a book have been produced, Ms. Young is awaiting news about the production of a movie on her sister's life.)

But this is not Ms. Young's only passion.  From her awakening ritual of breathing and yoga exercises all the way through to the evening, Ms. Young strives to live her life's missions. After breakfast, she walks the highway by her home for 30 minutes to 2 hours, picking up trash to keep the road pristine. She rides her bicycle for 5 miles and plays the piano for 30 minutes daily. She may attend an Audubon society meeting, give a lecture on peace-building, sing with her community group, or attend a games session at the community center. Staying connected to current events, gardening and maintaining contact with family and numerous friends are priorities. At 96, she still believes in living each day to its fullest, nurturing her body, mind and spirit. Oh, and did I mention that Ms. Young is legally blind?

Inspired by her energy, determination and discipline, I asked Ms. Young:

Laura Swett: What motivates you?

Helene Young: My hope is to be an inspiration. I’m living on a national highway. I can see well enough to get the trash off of the road. I’m visible and am hoping to inspire others to do the same. I try to straighten up nature whenever I see disorder. My sister claimed that nature is a way you find inner peace. It is one of my missions to commune with nature.

LS: What advice would you share with others about aging?
HY: Stay active! Stay involved! Exercise, eat a healthy diet, think healthy thoughts, live a peaceful life, commune with nature and keep yourself fully engaged. 

Monday, August 8, 2011 at 04:15PM

Written by Laura Swett

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