Peace Education – The VOICE

Youth explore appreciating differences at the Peace Ed Diversity Leaders Camp.

THEliving in a nation that feels more and more divided every day can have an emotional impact on all of us. But bright spots in this tumultuous time exist in our community. The Peace Education Program is one of them.

Known as Peace Ed, the organization – which started 35 years ago and currently includes 88 schools and 67 community sites in its network – provides learning experiences for youth and adults that help reduce violence. , improve personal integrity and foster mutual support. To find out more, we spoke with Executive Director Eileen Blanton.

HOW IT HAS EVOLVED

“The program started 35 years ago when we were teaching conflict resolution in a school classroom,” said Blanton. “We have worked tirelessly over the past (several) years to bring new initiatives to the youth of Louisville. Some of these initiatives include reducing stigma and training young gang members in conflict resolution. We have introduced our programs to entire colleges and preschools. (We) have also created a mediation manual that is used by different conflict resolution educators around the world.

Last year, they partnered with community partners, Dr. Eddie Woods, KentuckyOne Health, University of Louisville Hospital, Louisville Metro Department of Safety and Healthy Neighborhoods and others to establish “Pivot to Peace ”. This collaboration offers victims of stabbing and gunshot wounds the opportunity to identify and address the factors in their lives that put them at risk for violence, both physical and mental, and to help them change. of life.

THEIR SCOPE

“We reached over 25,000 youth and community members, served 26 schools and 15 community sites, and provided professional development training to 300 adults during the 2016-2017 school year,” said Blanton. “On average, in just 8.44 hours, Peace Ed can demonstrate an 84% increase in young people’s knowledge of non-violent conflict resolution strategies and a 30% increase in their use of listening, communication skills. and conflict resolution. “

Thanks to the work of Peace Ed, thousands of people in Louisville are able to reject violence and choose peaceful ways to solve their problems. From the streets to the hallways and meeting rooms, Peace Ed alumni are recognized as “champions of change,” who continue to apply their skills in meaningful ways.

Campers at Laukhuf Primary School learn skills while playing cooperative games.

CELEBRATE THE FACTORS OF CHANGE

A group of students from Meyzeek Middle School will be celebrated at Peace Ed’s upcoming event, Champions for Change: A Celebration of People that Make Peace Possible, which will take place on November 8 at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage.

“We are delighted to honor the recipients of the inaugural Lee Thomas Champion for Change award,” said Blanton. “They exemplify Peace Ed’s mission and values ​​to reduce violence, enhance personal integrity and foster mutual respect. The award goes to the Meyzeek Middle School Navigators, 10 young men who are surrounded by violence and who have spent the past three years dedicated to developing the skills needed to manage conflict peacefully.

Navigators have met weekly since grade six with Peace Ed trainer Durk Davidson to learn to understand their own anger triggers and signals, strategies for defusing conflict, and developing active listening and mediation skills. . Their weekly meetings serve as a safe space to find mutual support in the difficult – sometimes violent – situations they encounter in their schools, neighborhoods and homes.

“The change I’ve seen in these guys since the first day we met is phenomenal,” Davidson said. “Each week they share how they have used their skills to manage conflict and improve their lives. I am so proud of these young men and how much they have grown. They are already a large part of their schools and neighborhoods being safer places to grow up. “

The Navigators invite the community to come celebrate 35 years of Peace Ed’s victories over violence with all the people who make peace possible across town. There will be live music (including a special performance by Ben Sollee and Cynthia Fletcher), appetizers and cocktails.

“It is impossible to measure the amount of violence that has been prevented through this work and all the ways it affects individuals for the rest of their lives,” said Blanton. However, our efforts have been hailed as a factor in reducing violent crime in Louisville by 35% this year. We are thrilled to celebrate our mission on November 8 and join our community in raising funds to help our people. young people to resolve their conflicts peacefully. Vermont

Peace Ed Champions for Change

Kentucky Center for
African American heritage

5 p.m. to 7 p.m. November 8

peace education program.org

502.589.6583

In numbers

• Schools with high levels of conflict cite their work with Peace Ed as reducing their conflict by 25 to 50 percent.

• In just 8.44 hours, Peace Ed can demonstrate:

– 84% increase in young people’s knowledge of non-violent conflict resolution strategies

– 30 percent increase in their use of listening, communication and conflict resolution skills.

• The participants of Teen Leaders for Diversity demonstrate:

– Understanding of the program increased by 88%

– Diversity skills increase by 66 percent

• 95 percent of young people trained practice at least two new strategies to resolve their conflicts in a non-violent way.

• National statistics show that cooperative play programs reduce bullying by 43 percent.

• Schools that implement restorative practices (including conflict resolution and stigma reduction skills) show increased attendance and decreased suspensions.

About Michael C. Lovelace

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