The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation held its 18th annual “Evening for Peace” dinner to the tunes of John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Teach Your Children” as they imagined a future shaped by well-taught children.

Hafsat Abiola, a 25-year-old Nigerian human rights activist and Craig Kielburger, an 18-year-old spokesperson for children’s rights, were the honorees. The two were presented with the foundation’s 2001 Distinguished Peace Award for “dedicated or courageous leadership in the cause of peace.”

Past NAPF honorees include the 14th Dalai Lama, Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Ted Turner.

Abiola, a woman from Lagos, Nigeria, founded Kudirat Initiative for Democracy, an organization that supports worldwide democracy. In her speech she said the organization was named after her mother and is the legacy of her parents, who were assassinated for being democracy activists. Abiola’s father won the Nigerian presidential election in 1993 but died in prison after the military placed him in solitary confinement. Her mother fought for his release but was assasinated in the streets.

KIND works to strengthen the advancement of women and children in Africa, and Abiola said it has helped abolish women’s slavery and has established AIDS workshops throughout Africa.

“I can think of no better way to live my life than by doing this,” she said. “Hatred is not the opposite of love; it is the absence of love. Indeed, this award is for my parents.”

Kielburger established Free the Children, an organization concerned with worldwide issues of children’s rights. The organization has constructed over 100 schools and live-in rehabilitation centers for children.

“Whether a child is born in New York City, Santa Barbara or Kyoto, they are all children of the world. Every child has the potential to become the next Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King, Jr.,” Kielburger said. “If we are to achieve true peace in the world it must start with the children.”

Established in 1982, NAPF seeks to address the need for peace during the Nuclear Age. The organization promotes actions taken toward non-violence and advocates worldwide efforts towards education and the abolition of nuclear weapons.

David Krieger, NAPF president and founder, said the foundation hopes these types of awards will inspire more youth leaders to become active in creating a better future.

“It is our hope that these young people will help form the next generation of peace leaders,” Krieger said. “Use the gifts that you have – your hearts, your minds and your voices – to make a difference.”