Project peace is a peer-mediation, anti-bullying and youth court training program that enhances the skills of non-violent conflict resolution and active civic engagement in Edward Heston Middle School students. The program empowers children with important life-skills that promote constructive communication, problem solving, critical thinking and self-esteem. Project Peace has a very reasonable time commitment. Excluding planning sessions, and volunteer lesson planning preparation, volunteers will need to attend seven sessions in the first semester and nine sessions in the second semester. The sessions are held on Friday afternoons from 11:30 am-1:00pm. While steady attendance is expected, arrangements can be made to accommodate the volunteer’s scheduling conflicts. Volunteers will gain valuable client contact information as they practice imparting complex legal issues to those that are unfamiliar with the legal system by disseminating “Know Your Rights information,” and instructing the children to operate a Youth Courts and Mock Courts.
I love seeing the tangible impact that a session can have on a child’s life. During the anti-bullying session, one student recognized that he had bullying tendencies and vowed to be more considerate to the emotions of his peers. One of our most productive sessions was the College and Academic Success session. We discussed professional goals, potential colleges, and the steps each student must take to fulfil their academic goals. I have learned the importance of prioritizing public interest projects such as this, and the value of representation. These students truly respond to students and professionals who have had similar backgrounds, experiences, and tribulations as them, and they rarely receive individualized attention of this nature, in this context.