The Western Justice Center (WJC) hosted its 16th annual Peer Mediation Invitational (PMI) last week hosting 129 students and 28 faculty advisors from 15 middle and high schools from across the Greater Los Angeles area. Student peer mediators joined us at the Richard A. Chambers Courthouse over two days to practice mediation skills with coaching from professional mediator volunteers.
PMI began Tuesday with 49 middle school students from four schools and concluded Wednesday with eighty students from eleven high schools. The students ranged from seasoned veterans to beginners who had never conducted a peer mediation. They had the rare opportunity to meet, work with, and learn from each other. The professional mediator volunteers offered tips while coaching through mediation exercises and also acted as examples of future careers in conflict resolution.
“I loved it! Wish there could have been more.”
Each day began with a welcome from Judge Dorothy Nelson, WJC’s founder and Senior Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Student actors from WJC’s Encompass Service Learning Class at LA County High School of the Arts treated attendees to some morning entertainment and then stood in as disputants throughout the mock mediations. Students were split into groups and participated in skills workshops and mock mediation exercises while their program advisors took advantage of a rare opportunity to meet with each other, share their experiences, and discuss strategies to strengthen their programs. The days concluded with all the attendees coming together in the main courtroom for a certificate ceremony and photos with Judge Nelson and WJC Executive Director Elissa Barrett.
The event was made possible in part because of the generous support from the Judicate West Foundation. Lunch was subsidized by El Pollo Loco Tuesday and donated by Cutting Edge Catering on Wednesday.