We Cannot Change Others, We Can Change Ourselves

Vision Academy

We are grateful for these students from Vision Academy who recently gave their time to volunteer at Peace Learning Center because they believe peace matters

We Cannot Change Others, We Can Change Ourselves
These are tough times for peacemakers. Locally, nationally and internationally violence and intimidation face us daily. The recent atrocities committed in Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad shocked and saddened all of us.
While we cannot change others, we can change ourselves. Working for peace within ourselves helps us spread peace to family, friends, coworkers and the larger community.
We are eternally grateful for your support because everyday Peace Learning Center’s facilitators and volunteers witness personal change with preschool through high school students, parents, teachers and community members as we help each person find the peace and peacemaker within.
When they are first exposed to PLC programs, many struggling teenagers believe they will not survive beyond 25 years of age, so they live with no hope for tomorrow. Tragically it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for way too many.
“My mother worked three jobs and my dad was in prison,” a 19 year-old young man told me at a meeting. “She wouldn’t let me go outside to play so I watched TV all the time seeing all the things other people had.  When I went outside at 14, I got a gun because I knew that was how I was going to get that stuff for me.” After spending time in prison, he now is gainfully employed and attributes his faith in turning his life around.
Our data in schools shows Peace Learning Center reduces disciplinary actions by over 70% and helps students raise grades from D’s to B’s. How? We find young people and adults must first face the facts that you are the only one responsible for what you say and do.  You cannot blame others for your words and actions. 
Once you take personal responsibility for your life rather than blaming others and cashing in on the entitlements of victimhood, you start developing hope for the future. Hope for the future leads to ownership over education and career planning.
Locally, we all must work to increase the opportunities for youth to gain jobs, intern and mentorships, tutors, and friends.  Indianapolis has wonderful school choices but our out-of-school programs are shrinking and neglected.  
Please help us extend peace education into our community by volunteering, giving and spreading the word about our work.  Together we can change things for the better. 
Thank you again for all of you who believe peace is possible and who do your part to support peace education.

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” 

This blog post was written by Tim Nation, Executive Director and Co-founder of Peace Learning Center.

3 Steps to Peace


Three Steps to Peace

At the core, Restorative Practices are about building and sustaining positive relationships and community. This is why family relationships can benefit tremendously by implementing components of Restorative Practices.

Much of what I’ve learned about peace comes from my family, who’ve helped me instill a sense of love and belonging in my heart.
Family is a funny thing when you think about it. You would not know many of the people in your extended family if you were not related to them. You probably would not work with them, nor live in the same neighborhood, but there’s something that ties us all together.

It is sad when families break apart because two or more people cannot work out their differences. Practicing peace skills can help and there are great lessons for families in our peacemaking curriculum that is based on Restorative Practices.

Let’s explore three simple concepts:

  1. Attack the problem not the person. Imagine if we focused on the problem rather than blaming and shaming others when we sense a wrong has happened.
  2. Ask questions before making assumptions about other people’s intentions.How many times do we get into disagreements and walk away rather than resolving things? Many times we feel uncomfortable and make assumptions about the other person’s intentions for a perceived slight or act of disrespect.What about asking questions in the moment when we feel uncomfortable or feel as if we are being attacked. Questions like,”Is there a problem?” or “Did I do something to offend you?” Putting attention back on ourselves and talking about our emotions helps the other person have room to explain their point of view.
  3. Don’t go to bed until you’ve worked out problems with your family member(s). Do you want to go to sleep at night? It’s important to talk things outrather than letting them linger and not addressing them. It takes time and energy to make peace, but if you are honest with yourself and with your family members, and act in a timely manner rather than having doubt and fear the issue will be resolved.

Work for peace in your family and with your friends and coworkers. Peace doesn’t start until someone takes initiative.

This post was written by Tim Nation, Executive Director and Co-founder of Peace Learning Center.

Tim Nation, executive director of PLC, with his immediate and extended family.

Indy Star Article

IPS 56  photo by Maureen Gilmer, Indy Star

IPS 56 photo by Maureen Gilmer, Indy Star

IPS students learn how to raise their kindness quotient

Indianapolis Star, Sept. 14 by Maureen C. Gilmer
Click here to read the article.
Peace Learning Center in Eagle Creek Park teaches lessons in conflict resolution, compassion, and anti-bullying.
It isn’t very often that a news article perfectly describes what we do at Peace Learning Center AND why we do it. That’s why we are excited to share this recent Indianapolis Star article with all of you. 
It showcases many of the critical components in our programs which we developed during the last 18 years based on research-based best practices and our own experience teaching people of all ages how to resolve conflicts without violence, maintain healthy relationships, and communicate well with others. 
This article also demonstrates the range of audiences we serve – preschool children, k-5th grade students, teenagers, families, teachers, organizations, and corporations. 
Finally, it describes how through our new One Indy initiative we are bringing the best of everything we have to offer to schools serving students who face tremendous challenges in their lives – students who deserve peaceful, supportive communities that help them achieve success in the classroom and throughout their lives.
This is our city, these are our children. We are calling this initiative One Indy because it means we care about each other and we are working together to create a better future for all children in our community.
We invite you to join us this school year by sharing the best of what you have to offer, no matter how small or unusual it may seem, to make a real, lasting difference for children and youth in our community. 
Be sure to check our One Indy web page for updates about the initiative. And be sure to give your local school a call to see what you can do to support the students they serve.
Written by Tim Nation, Executive Director and Co-founder of Peace Learning Center.

5 Tips for Parents



Parents have tremendous responsibilities. Each child is born into this world with an open heart and open mind. Each moment helps shape a young person’s thoughts and feelings for a lifetime.

With four children in our household, my wife Meg and I get many chances to raise young people. Each child is different with their unique personalities. Parenting is the most rewarding and consuming part of life I’ve experienced.

Here are a few ideas about parenting I’ve picked up over the last 20 years:

  1. Tim & Family

    Tim with his extended family at last year’s Mustached Turtle Dash!

    Kids need love and acceptance – not criticism and judgment – but it is a balance. Can you be a nurturing authority that sets boundaries and tolerates action within those boundaries?

  2. It is better to have positive and open relationships with your children than an oversight and monitoring role. Our children need us when they get in trouble. If they think sharing with you will get them in deeper trouble and not be helpful, you may miss opportunities before things really get bad.
  3. Keep calm and don’t yell. I’ve had my share of mad dad moments to later regret my behavior because the louder you get, the louder the whole house will be. Not a good example.
  4. In this age of computers and electronic devices, it is best to make plans and tell your kids they will be joining you rather than giving them a choice. We used to give choices, but many youth are so connected to their computers they’d rather not leave the house.
  5. Don’t spank or hit children. Nearly all mental health professionals agree that when you hurt a child it teaches them that adults are mean, unpredictable and will hurt you. Also it teaches your child that violence is acceptable when you are frustrated.
Families come in many configurations, but at the heart of all of them is love. All of us are critical parts of a larger community. If we build peace in our homes, our children and community prospers.

This blog post is written by Tim Nation, Executive Director and Co-founder of Peace Learning Center.

If it’s to be, it’s up to me


Tim Use this One

The story we tell ourselves and others is our reality. All the triumphs, challenges, and ongoing battles we dwell on in our minds would be forever gone if we lost our lives tomorrow. 

The truth is – no one makes you feel or act – it is your choice. The only thing controlled by you, is what you say and what you do.

Indianapolis is a city that studies say is one of the most difficult places to go from poverty as a child to prosperity as an adult.  It is not because there are not opportunities – mostly a lack of relationships and access.

Education is the ladder out of poverty.  The further you go in education – the higher the ladder.  But we all know, education is time and time is precious when we have families to feed and jobs to work.

My work at Peace Learning Center involves helping people realize their true potential while overcoming their shortcomings.

People ask me, “How do you help young people succeed, especially if they’re in the juvenile justice system?”

It starts with taking personal responsibility for your life.  No one makes you feel or do things – you are responsible for your own decisions.  Once we realize this, we see that no one holds us back but ourselves. 

Once you take charge – you start having hope for the future.  Once you have hope – you realize that your education is the tool for positive change.  Better understanding the world helps us determine our own destiny.

We are not our past.  We are the present and the future.  Our past is part of us, but every day we have a chance to write a new chapter and every day we have the chance to build new relationships.

We often teach that your whole life comes down to just ten two letter words.

If it is to be, it is up to me. 

This post is written by Tim Nation, Executive Director and Co-founder of Peace Learning Center.

Summer “Break”


School is out for summer. Once those doors close, kids aren’t welcomed back until August.

Exploring Nature

Exploring nature during Peacebuilders Camp!

Think about it – here in Indianapolis that is 221,664 youth, 19 years and under, who need adults to take care of them.

While summer break is shorter for most youth because of balanced calendars (school is out for two weeks in fall, winter and spring) it still averages around 9 weeks. Youth are in school at least 180 days a year by law – that leaves 185 “out of school” days.

While our city enjoys new school choices through new charter, magnet and private schools, I’ve witnessed a decline in youth enrichment programs that focus on out of school time.

The Kaleidoscope Youth Center recently closed as did Ruth Lilly Health Education Center‘s building at 22nd and Senate. Now, Marian University runs Ruth Lilly Health Education’s programs through outreach.

What happened? Because of multiple factors including funding, testing and competition for class time, many students do not go on field trips or only take one-two field trips a year versus the nearly monthly field trips they enjoyed before.

In response to this trend, Peace Learning Center has modified our programs to go directly into classrooms, offices, and communities. While many of the field trip programs to Eagle Creek Park and Peace Camp in southern Indiana ended during the great recession due to school budget cuts, we still offer robust summer camp experiences for hundreds of children and youth each summer.

People ask how we’ve survived these last 18 years. It is because of people like you who support and encourage us to move forward. Our city is full of positive people with integrity and compassion.

Let’s step up and provide the best experiences possible for kids this summer through arts, nature, recreation, and discovery. Summer should be freedom to connect with all those passions that schools often don’t give children opportunities to explore.

Please help Peace Learning Center share summer with Indy’s kids by donating to support our summer programs and/or by participating in our special summer offerings! Check our website to learn more about our summer camps and special workshops your family or your children can attend.

This blog post is written by Tim Nation, Executive Director and Co-founder of Peace Learning Center.

Tim’s Peace Update: April 2015

Jamaica Follow the Leader

Jamaican teachers take turn being the leader during a “blind caterpillar” exercise.

Teaching: An honorable profession

In the last few months I’ve met with a number of administrators and professors from schools of education at Marian, Butler and IUPUI. A common theme is a noticeable drop in applications from students who want to be teachers.

Contrast this with a recent service trip I took with a team from Peace Learning Center to Sav La Mar Jamaica for a 3-day teacher vocational training focused on conflict resolution and peace building in the classroom.

In Jamaica, the teaching profession is still ranked as a prestigious position for females and males.  Many teachers told stories of their parents urging them to be educators even though Jamaican schools are oftentimes crowded and underfunded with a lack of basic teaching supplies and technology.

“This is the best training I’ve ever attended,” said a veteran Jamaican teacher while participating in this vocational training on peace and conflict resolution. The three day spring conference hosted over 90 participants who learned ways to peacefully resolve their conflicts while improving their classroom management.

The teachers assembled were challenged to reflect on why they are teachers, while exploring the root causes of many of the problems their students and communities face. “We must be the change we wish to see in the world,” they shared.

Participants received a Teach the Facilitator Manual and Jamaican Student Peace Education Workbook both printed and electronic, posters, learning guides and other materials to share with their students and colleagues.  Day three included small group work designing and implementing their own peace education workshop.

“I think this training should be mandatory for every existing and new teacher in Jamaica,” a high school teacher commented on the evaluation.  “Make this training part of our university teacher curriculum,” said another.

We have much to learn from Jamaicans on how our communities should honor and support teachers.  It saddens me to hear stories of parents in USA telling their children not to go into teaching because they won’t make enough to pay their student loans.

Teaching is an extremely important profession that requires our best and brightest.

We should do all we can to support and improve teaching and learning for everyone.

This section is written by Tim Nation, Executive Director and Co-founder of Peace Learning Center.

Reflections on MLK’s life and legacy

Tim Use this One

Tim Nation, Executive Director and Cofounder of Peace Learning Center

While we reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King’s life and legacy, 2014 will stand as a watershed year for a civil rights awakening that is both sad and hopeful.

Sad because racial disparities continue to rise despite Dr. King’s call for all people to come together understanding we are all one human family – children of God.  Schools, child services, police and courts continue to suspend, expel, remove from their homes and punish people of color disproportionately by ranges from 200% to even 1200% more than white people.

Police action shootings and recent grand jury decisions bring attention to these disparities sparking a younger generation to wake up to these injustices realizing they could no longer say we are in a post racial society and that the civil rights movement was their parents’ and grandparents’ fight.

Hopeful because many people recognize we must address these problems.  Our institutions are reflections of our history and cultural so we must know how we got to this place to be able to change things.

Fear is a powerful force.  Our country’s dark history of slavery used fear as an economic tool.  Imagine the mindset of slave-holding plantation owners – every night wondering if their prisoners would rise up at night and overpower them. Worried that their slaves would flee, the myth of the runaway dangerous slave who would rape white women was created to turn non slaveholders into fearful participants in a community of people committed to perpetuating violence and difference.

Not until the 1950’s and 60’s did our country’s laws and customs start changing to integrate black people into our society – meaning that we are a mere 50 years into this cultural evolution. There are two generations among us who lived before our country’s laws were changed.

But laws and regulations don’t necessarily change hearts and minds. This subconscious fear of the other must be dealt with if we are to move beyond current tensions. We must dispel of myths that drive wedges between people.  Focusing on differences and ignoring our similarities keeps us from the peace we all desire.

Research shows that racial disparities and disproportionality will be reduced when we dialogue and build skills to live in a multicultural society that promotes equity and justice.  In New Zealand, all teachers and youth professionals and trained in “cultural safety” the concept that each child has a right to feel safe and secure and their culture will be respected at their schools and communities.

In Indianapolis, leaders like Pat Payne at Indianapolis Public Schools and Cindy Booth at Child Advocates lead efforts to end racism through education.  Peace Learning Center helps schools, businesses, neighborhood and faith groups learn diversity and social justice skills through a variety of workshops and programs at Eagle Creek Park and in the community.

It is time to face our fears and have difficult conversations for the sake of our future. Learning to address our fears and build hope will reduce violence and increase kindness – is that what we all need?

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Dr. Martin Luther King

Tim Nation

Executive Director and Cofounder

Peace Learning Center