Young, Gifted and Violence Free: young people trained as peace facilitators
With funding from the UNICEF-supported Adolescent Development Programme, the Dispute Resolution Foundation has trained 92 young persons as peer mediators and peace facilitators in 50 violence prone communities in Jamaica. The primary aim of the programme is to equip young participants with the knowledge, skills and experience to mediate conflicts and promote peace among their peers, thereby promoting proactive, prompt and positive ways to dealing with conflict and managing violent behaviours at the community level.
The young people were trained at a 10-day residential camp in 2005, in the areas of work ethics, deportment, basic communication, anger management, and conflict and dispute resolution. Fun physical activities and the performing arts were used in sessions to help young persons to channel negative energies. The Dispute Resolution Foundation collaborated closely with the National Youth Service to conduct the varying aspects of training.
After the 10-day training, each young person was placed in an agency working in violence prone communities to undergo a 6-month full-time practicum at the end of which they were cerfified as community mediators (in accordance with DRF standards). The overall goal of the programme is to promote peaceful alternative channels to resolve anger and conflict and the young mediators are required to go back to their communities and assigned agencies to act/serve as peer mediators and peace facilitators. This assistance includes providing training or facilitating interventions with their peers in youth clubs and schools clubs. Participants are encouraged to assist efforts in schools through the ‘Safe School programme’ for instance as well as via police youth clubs.
Under the theme “Young, Gifted and Vioelnce Free” the Dispute Resolution Foundation is now working with the young people in the development of public education programme. A number of television spots and radio messages are now being developed aimed at young people. In addition, the young people and DRF are working on posters, wrist bands and T-shirts with messages such as “I Choose Peace” and “Proud to be Violence Free”.