School Peacebuilders is designed to improve communication and conflict management skills, foster a sense of leadership, and reduce violence due to conflict. The program teaches students to:
- Analyze the sources and dynamics of conflict,
- Consider appropriate responses to conflict,
- Identify underlying needs,
- Improve listening and communication skills, and
- Practice conflict resolution processes.
Western Justice Center (WJC) currently provides technical assistance to several PUSD elementary, middle and high schools, as well as to schools in the greater Los Angeles area. We provide training for students, teachers, staff, administrators, security officers, and school police, as well as design peer mediation and dialogue programs.
Researchers from California State University Northridge (CSUN) conducted an independent evaluation of WJC’s youth-based conflict resolution programs. They noted the following impact by audience:
- Teachers and school staff indicated significantly less violence due to conflict than there was before the conflict resolution training. In addition, fewer incident reports were referred to the administration.
- Students noted that the training increased their skills in active listening and teamwork; in addition, they noticed they used mediation skills with their families and non-school friends.
- Parents observed that the training had a significant impact on their child’s willingness to speak out against bullying, to listen carefully, and to pay attention to their environment.
Summer 4 Peace
Summer 4 Peace is a week-long 20-hour conflict resolution training for middle and high school youth. Participating students are taken through an interactive and engaging youth-focused curriculum, learning conflict resolution skills such as constructive communication and the processes of negotiation, informal mediation and facilitation. Students who complete the program receive a certificate in conflict resolution from Western Justice Center (WJC).
The first Summer 4 Peace was held in 2009 with 25 participants. In evaluations conducted by researchers from the Department of Psychology and California State University, Northridge, all of the students felt the workshop improved their confidence in being an effective mediator, while 90.9% felt the workshop improved their ability to teach conflict resolution to others. In addition, 86.3% of the students strongly agreed the workshop was worthwhile, and 90.9% would recommend the workshop to others.
The second offering took place in 2011. Participants stated:
"I think this training will help me to manage my anger better and refrain from getting involved in conflicts. I know how to look at other's points of view and question my own rationale."
"I think the training was something I definitely needed to go through. It taught me how to think things through clearly before acting because my inability to manage my own anger in the past has negatively affected me. I believe I am now closer to being able to do this with the skills I learned, as long as I continue to practice them."
"It showed me how to be a better problem solver."
"It will help me to stay out of or resolve conflict."
"This training has increased my confidence in what to say and ask during conflicts."
From Winter 2008 through Winter 2011, WJC collaborated with the Los Angeles County Public Defender and Probation Department, Los Angeles NAACP Customer Service Learning Center, and Mentoring and Partnership for Youth Development to provide in-camp retail skills to 8 cohorts, each composed of approximately 15 youth. To each cohort, WJC delivered 3 one-hour retail-oriented conflict resolution trainings focused on active listening, constructive communication and decision-making.
Community Youth Peacebuilders
In 2010, WJC held a 20-session conflict resolution program for 20 high school students at a Pasadena community park. This program integrated with the conflict resolution training other valuable life skills such as drug and alcohol prevention, healthy nutrition, and navigating city services.
Art for Peace
Art for Peace helps youth explore conflict resolution and engagement through the medium of art. The program’s components include a curriculum and an art show.
The Art for Peace Toolkit is an instrument to teach conflict resolution through creative expression, and includes a series of conflict resolution concepts, art project ideas and art techniques, and art supplies that can be used on their own or as a supplement to conflict resolution curriculum for students in grades 3-8.
Each Toolkit consists of a set of “art start cards” that provide 5 conflict resolution concepts for students to choose as a theme, 10-15 different art project ideas, and 6 different art tips. These cards also include a glossary for what might be unfamiliar art terms and the art supplies helpful in creating art projects.
Western Justice Center (WJC) created the Art for Peace Art Start Cards in collaboration with MetaFour Productions.
Create Peace Art Festival
WJC hosted the second annual Create Peace Art Festival on June 5, 2011, with 133 peace-themed artworks created by youth grades 3-12 officially entered in the show. A number of other works were also exhibited for display. The inagural art festival was held on May 15, 2010, with 60 pieces of artwork created by youth ages 8-19. Both art festivals occured in collaboration with MetaFour Productions. Pasadena's Mayor Bill Bogaard welcomed the audience at both shows.
Create Peace was designed as a space for students in youth-based conflict resolution programs, art classes, afterschool programs, or other youth-group settings from throughout Los Angeles County to showcase their peace-themed artwork. The purpose of creating this space is to encourage students and those viewing the artwork to be inspired to think creatively about ways to build cultures of peace.
From 2008-2011, WJC collaborated with All Saints Church Office of Creative Connections, The California Conference for Equality and Justice (CCEJ), CORAL Innovation Center New Vision Partners, Day One, Flintridge Center, and YWCA Pasadena-Foothill Valley in order to offer Culture Shock to 20-30 Pasadena area high school students each summer.
Culture Shock is a three-day summer training opportunity to provide teens with human relations, cross-cultural communication, and conflict resolution skills to use in their schools and communities. The training culminates with a youth-led community project. In addition, every graduate is invited to come back and receive a one-day facilitator training in order to serve as a peer facilitator for subsequent Culture Shock cohorts.
Youth satisfaction surveys demonstrate that, among other things, the young people who participated felt a greater sense of efficacy in addressing issues on their school campuses and in their community.