Page last updated at 15:48 GMT, Sunday, 29 June 2008 16:48 UK

Spreading peace over the net

The crowds in Ithaca forming a human peace sign

The internet provides many ways in which people can send a message, write about their lives or get connected. One 16-year-old from Ithaca, in New York State, has managed to harness the power of online social networking to try and break a world record.

Not only did Trevor Dougherty reach millions online but he physically gathered nearly 6,000 people together to make his point.

Trevor Dougherty
16-year-old Trevor Dougherty has tried to break a world record
Trevor has been taking his exams at Ithaca High School. At the same time he has been campaigning for world peace and organising a huge event. Not something that every teenager attempts.

Last year Trevor put together a short video with the message: "People around the world are getting killed. We should end the violence and strive for world peace."

The film was featured on the video-sharing website YouTube and was nominated for the "Most Inspirational" category in the YouTube Video Awards 2007. It encouraged 200 people to make their own short movies in response.

Trevor says, "I knew it was the best video I had ever made, but it was incredible to see it featured. It's funny because I made the original video during my exams last year and I organised this event during my finals this year. It's beautiful to be distracted from my ghastly final exams, by doing something righteous."

A plan for peace

"The plan was to get about 5,000 people to come out and make the world's largest peace sign. The organiser of a local festival - the Ithaca Festival - told me that he'd have about that many people turning up there for that day's events." says Trevor.

"To get people together you do a lot of advertising, you send out press releases, put up posters and you get people talking. We did an advertising campaign both paid-for and for free - on Facebook and YouTube. About 4,000 people were invited on Facebook. The festival's website mentioned it, people saw it on the other sites and we got Facebook users to invite their friends."

Crowd getting into shape
Trevor Dougherty organises the crowd. Photo: Samite Mulondo

"The official count is 5,814 persons. We did a reverse count by handing out beans and seeing how many we had left. We painted a huge peace sign on the ground as an outline. I was given a wireless microphone and I was in charge!"

"Everyone was extremely cooperative, they were all very excited about about the idea of setting a record. They also understood the message. I think they agreed that, while we were not confiscating any weapons or ending any wars, we were forming a community of persons dedicated to one powerful cause.

"Many people volunteered to film, photograph and fly over the event and now the message is travelling around the world to places like Pakistan, India and Korea. We're sending all the evidence to Guinness to see if we broke the record."

"Video production has always been a hobby of mine. I think it's the most powerful way to reach people online. We are the YouTube generation and it's a great way to get the word out. From here I would really like to pursue a career in international relations and perhaps use my passion for communications as part of that pursuit."

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