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As we began to implement restorative practices into our One Indy schools in early January 2016 we found a high demand for more people to be available to lead both proactive and restorative circles in classrooms across our schools. This led to our first ever Circle Keeper training for volunteers.
Many of our volunteers were from a program we called Peace Church Ambassadors and they helped almost exclusively with implementing restorative practices at Ralph Waldo Emerson #58 while our Youth Development Facilitator, Mame Keita, was out on maternity leave.
Near the end of the school year, one of these volunteers, Linda, was unable to finish out the academic year with the classrooms she had been serving for nearly 6 months. The letters below were given to Linda from students in each of these classrooms and are a true testament to not only the effectiveness of restorative practices but the hard work and dedication our volunteers provide!
Around this time last year, Peace Learning Center’s Youth Development Facilitator, Melita Carter, embarked on a dream to help reinvigorate the East Side through a service project that would bring youth, public servants, and the community as a whole together. This project, aptly named Koinonia, meaning to propel the community forward, has been accomplished so much in the past year. She hoped that it would create a sense of ownership for her community to compel them to care for their neighbors and the world we live in. Phase 1 of the Koinonia Project involved a three-day clean-up of the East Side. Volunteers collected over 500 bags of trash in their quest to clean up the streets!
Phase 2 of Koinonia is now underway and involves having local artists paint six traffic boxes across the East Side. The first of these traffic boxes has now been completed. The box is located on the corner of 38th and Mitthoeffer in front of John Marshall High School, one of Peace Learning Center’s partner schools. The first box artwork was designed and done by N. Beth Line.
Ashleigh Orr is this month’s Volunteer of the Month. As a volunteer Ashleigh has been a huge help in the implementation and success of Cocktails & Coloring, a Peace Learning Center fundraiser. Jay Horan, our Director of Engagement, has worked closely with Ashleigh and said, “Ashleigh is so fun to be around! She is always positive and willing to help in any way possible. She has a go get ’em attitude and has no problem jumping right into a project.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 5, 2016
Contact: Tiffany Tibbot
Director of Operations
200 Teens to Attend Summit on Youth Empowerment
Local educational non-profit Peace Learning Center to host free event s to empower teenagers.
Event: Beyond You: Finding Your Passion Within
Date/Time: Wednesday, April 27, 9 am – 2 pm
Location: The Athenaeum
407 E. Michigan St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Social media: #BEyondYOU
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Peace Learning Center (PLC), with support from the Indiana Family & Social Services Administration, Division of Mental Health and Addiction, will host Beyond You: Finding Your Passion Within on Wednesday, April 27th from 9 am to 2 pm in downtown Indianapolis at the Athenaeum. During this teen summit, PLC and other youth-serving organizations will celebrate and share youth voice through interactive and dialogue based workshops to unite and empower youth to find their passion to drive change in their community. The event, which includes breakfast and lunch, is free for Indiana youth ages 13-19 years old and their adult chaperones. Groups transporting youth to the event may request a transportation scholarship. Limited seats are available and registration is required. To register and learn more visit http://conta.cc/1RY3FMr.
“This event is designed to align with Peace Learning Center’s unique approach to bullying prevention which empowers youth to find their passion and to use their voices and talents to impact their community for the greater good,” said Jay Horan, Director of Engagement at PLC.
During the event, youth will be connected with creative and inspiring ways to find their voice to speak out for themselves and others through local organizations that work with youth and/or have specific youth led initiatives. PLC will lead a community building and goal-setting workshop at the end of the day meant to help youth focus their passions and imagine what effects their actions could have on their community. Studies show that youth who are empowered in one aspect of their lives will also be empowered in other facts. Throughout the day, PLC will focus on empowering youth to be upstanders who are willing to stand-up for themselves and their own passions, as well as demonstrate they do not tolerate peer mistreatment of any kind.
The day will be divided into two 50 minute sessions, with teens able to choose a morning and afternoon session. Each breakout will be creative and open for real communication, with the goal of having youth come away from the session able to recognize how other youth are having an impact on the community.
Break-out sessions presenters include:
Tony Styxx, is an Indianapolis, IN native who has been a performer on the Indy scene since 2007 who brings spoken word poetry, Hip-Hop emceeing and human beatboxing to the stage with charismatic flare and will speak during lunch between the break-out sessions. The event will conclude with a community fair where youth can learn more about organizations whose workshops they were unable to attend, as well as play carnival games for prizes.
This blog was written by our Youth Programs Director, Kristina Hulvershorn.
Restorative Justice, Restorative Practices, Restorative Circles…all of the names and definitions can get confusing so we want to share a few stories that show you why we are so proud of this work. These are all stories from the last 2 months of work in IPS schools by our Peace Learning Center team.
It is about people helping themselves
Two teenagers at a high school get sent out of class. Their words were escalating and it looked like they might fight. One restorative circle later we find out the complexities of their relationship and the two of them are able to reconnect and make a plan for how to get along in the future without disrupting class. One participant said that the process was refreshing because it felt good to talk it through the right way and was grateful for the opportunity. They didn’t need to be told that they were wrong or what to do. Neither student needed to be punished in order to learn something or do the right thing. They came up with a solution on their own and were back in the class within 20 minutes.
It is about changing how we view children
After a circle with a full elementary class, who had been experiencing a number of problems with disruptions and negative behaviors, the teacher remarked “I have never seen them take responsibility for their actions like that!” Students were given the power and the space to understand that their actions have consequences and to come up with a way to improve things on their own terms. In addition, trust was built within their classroom community and was strong enough to allow them to feel safe taking ownership of their own actions. Imagine suspending students for this problem. The community would have been further fractured and pulled apart– exactly the opposite of what it needed.
It is about unexpected victories
Some of the most illuminating restorative work we do happens when we there are strained relationships between students and teachers. Often “challenging students” have lived lives full of trauma and are reacting to language or situations that unintentionally provoke them. One student explained that he skipped class because his teacher regularly humiliates him in front of the entire group and he feels so embarrassed he leaves. Another student told us that he was so tired of changes (multiple teachers this year) that he contributed to the chaos in his classroom because “I just don’t like change” Just being heard was an important step for him and for the adults to understand how to offer more continuity. Yet another student told us that he gets so frustrated when his work is too hard or when taking standardized tests that confuse him that he intentionally chooses off task behaviors to give himself a break. That behavior makes his teacher upset so she escalates her language. As soon as she raises her voice that also sets him off. This complicated interplay has resulted in so much academic time lost and the erosion of the relationship. Understanding what is happening in these instances allows the group to come up with solutions that will really restore the harm that has been done. In that particular circle, as the parent was headed out, our facilitator turned to see the teacher and the student hugging. The teacher was in tears telling the student “I love you and I just know you can do better. I’m really glad we got to talk.”
It is about a safe space for mistakes
One of our facilitators was called into a classroom where teachers and students possessions were disappearing. The group was able to explain how it felt and the harm done by having their items stolen. Before the circle was over one young man excused himself and walked over to his backpack where he began removing the items that he had previously stolen and getting them back to their rightful owners. No one expected him to do this but he felt safe enough to own up to his mistake and felt enough remorse for what he did to do the right thing. Sometimes restoring harm is simple and instantaneous.
It is about diving in where everyone else is afraid to
What does a child really learn if they’re punished for using hurtful language? At one school a child had been using racial slurs towards another for quite some time and the school didn’t know what to do. They said that they were afraid of getting the families together for fear of what might happen. We called together a formal restorative conference including the students, parents, and the teachers . It was a heartfelt and challenging time but interestingly the child using the racial slurs asked if he could first apologize to the victim’s mother. He went on to say ”this has got to stop”. The group implemented several solutions that has made an enormous difference in the classroom. The victim was able to share how those words harmed him and rather than further confusion and frustration the child using those words learned a great deal about their power and about why he should not use that language in the future.
It is about real solutions that create real peace
We’ve all seen the viral videos. Group feuds turn it into mob mentality and violence quickly– even in schools. Just yesterday one of our facilitators led a circle with two groups that had been feuding for months. The circle created understanding and calm where before there had been gossip, anger, frustration and an enormous potential for violence. Our children are not thugs. Our children are not criminals. They have simply not been given the time, structure, and trust to restore and build the kind of communities they want to be a part of. That is what restored practice does.
It is about love
In one conference a student had made a serious threat to his teacher. She was able to explain that she lost sleep on multiple nights because of this threat. His mother was able to explain that when he makes these kind of choices it makes life hard on her because she has to miss her own school to come to meetings and to receive phone calls about her son’s behavior. He was able to explain his side and apologize, all the while bringing him and his teacher closer, rather than further apart.
Over and over again we have trusted in the good that resides within people, including those who have done wrong. Every single time we have seen that goodness prevails. Kinder, gentler, and wiser selves emerge. Restorative practices are about setting up the circumstances for the goodness within humanity to emerge. Imagine the future we can create, as we work to align ourselves and those we serve with the best that is inside us.
Peace Learning Center staff and board want to thank those who joined Team PLC during Round 1 of Brackets for Good. Whether you donated, shared our message, or just cheered us on from the sidelines we appreciate your contribution.
We hope that next year we will have the chance to compete again and we look forward to seeing who wins this year’s bracket!
A special thanks to these donors who helped us raise a total of $4,169 to support Peace Learning Center’s Youth Programs:
Peace Learning Center is excited to be 1 of 64 nonprofits chosen from 281 to take part in the 2016 Brackets for Good in Indianapolis! Last night we were so excited to be at the pep rally that was sponsored by Celadon.
Brackets for Good allows nonprofit organizations to compete in a March Madness style bracket competition to out fundraise their opponents.If you are interested in learning more about Brackets for Good, visit their website here.
The first round begins on Friday, February 26th.
Tip off is at 8:00 p.m. and the competition begins!
The ball is in our court until 7:59:59 p.m. on Friday, March 4th when the first round closes.
We need YOU on our team! How can you be a part of Team PLC during the Brackets for Good challenge?
1. Score Peace Learning Center points by donating directly through the Brackets for Good website. You can set up a profile through their website that will allow you to easily donate when the clock is running down. This is an absolutely secure website so no concerns about your credit card information being stolen. Remember, the only way we move on is to win the bracket and only donations through the official website count! For every dollar given, Team PLC scores!
2. Sink those buzzer beaters! When you go to donate directly through the Brackets for Good website you will be given the option to make your donation a “buzzer beater.” These shots, like in basketball, can make or break a game. When you choose to make your donation a buzzer beater it doubles or triples your donation in the last few seconds before the round ends. Will you be our clutch player?
3. Share your support for Peace Learning Center on social media. Find us on our Facebook page, Peace Learning Center, our Instagram: @peacelearning and our Twitter: @peacelearning. Don’t forget to use the following hashtags: #BFGIndy #IamPLC #PLCSquadGoals
Thank you so much for being a part of Team PLC as we head in to the tournament. Be sure to check our social media regularly for updates on how we’re doing in the competition. Live play-by-plays will be available through twitter when the tournament begins.
Barbara Oberreich is this month’s Volunteer of the Month. As a volunteer Barbara, has been instrumental in setting up a pilot volunteer restorative justice program. Kristina Hulvershorn, our Director of Youth Programs, has worked closely with Barbara and said, “Barbara is a wonderful combination of wisdom and passion who has been the reason we are able to begin a restorative practice volunteer pilot program. We are so lucky to have Barbara working hard for peace in our community.”
Thank you Barbara for everything you have done for our organization. We are very grateful to have you on our team!