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The Peacemaker Corps: Promoting Peace, Tolerance, and Conflict Resolution

The Peacemaker Corps is a resource for local law enforcement to engage youth and community members through education programs, Mall Rallies Across the USA events, and the Peace in the Street Global Film Festival. Our vision recognizes that young people are not isolated within their neighborhoods; focuses on education programs for teens; and engages adults, including law enforcement officers and social services agencies within the community, by employing them as facilitators for the Peacemaker workshops.

The Peacemaker Corps Association (PCA) was founded in 1997 to support the United Nations mission to promote peace, tolerance, and nonviolent conflict resolution around the world. For the past 20 years, PCA’s mentor-moderated group workshop programs have been rigorously tested, refined, and proven in some of the most challenging neighborhoods in the United States. Each day, millions of children and young adults are victims of bullying, physical abuse, and geopolitical terrorism. PCA uses the support of local community members and technology via smart phones, the Peace in the Streets Global Film Festival app, and websites to decrease violence locally and globally.

PCA supports a global curriculum with the Peace in the Streets Global Film Festival, a showcase for young filmmakers from around the world sharing ideas about making peace at home. The Peace in the Streets Global Film Festival empowers young people everywhere in the world with access to any technology available to share their ideas, innovative approaches, and individual voices with one another in their quest for a better world. Youth 18 and under are invited to make a video relating how to make Peace In The Streets, and films can be made on any device: phones, tablets, or video cameras. The 2016 Peace in the Streets film winners were celebrated at an event on October 28, 2016, and the videos demonstrate the innovative approaches and individual voices of young people.

Another program that supports local engagement are the Peacemaker Corps Workshops, two days events held in a shopping mall or other safe space for youth—neutral ground, considered by conflict resolution professionals as a “safe space” where teenagers can leave their cliques, gang affiliations, and community biases at the door. Creating these zones helps young people create an environment that is conducive to learning and sharing. Invited students are seated in a half circle and are encouraged to actively participate in discussions. This hands-on, active learning approach generates thought-provoking conversation that has a lasting effect on the students’ mindsets and behaviors. The first day consists of town hall interactive discussions about diversity, terrorism, conflict, and youth violence. Students then participate in awareness activities to identify their own reactions to conflict. The second day consists of interactive exercises focusing on mentoring and ethics and concludes with a workshop on community organizing.

Striving for the complete mitigation of violence is foolhardy; however, PCA believes that we can make a significant change in the level of violence occurring in our local neighborhoods by empowering youth to realize that they can be peacemakers and encouraging law enforcement to become mentors. PCA has a number of education programs but is developing a new program we are calling Peace Officers: Peacemaking in the Community.

      The Peace Officers: Peacemaking in the Community program       will focus on training law enforcement personnel using our       existing proven curriculums. First we work on what the statement “Peace in the Streets” means to them and then how to expand that rallying cry to the communities they protect. Currently we work through local organizations including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 91 Boys and Girls Clubs across the United States, the YMCA and YWCA, faith-based facilities, refugee camps, schools, and neighborhood youths. These training sessions can be held virtually, using our website and mobile app to deliver the messages how to achieve excellence results. We already have two-way communication embedded into the PSGFF app for the film festival, and our technology staff is always available to edit and update the material when necessary from our headquarters in California and New York. Our goal is to sign up a few pilot programs where PCA is already working with these local organizations to train their youths to make videos for our festival and with law enforcement organizations supportive of learning new ways to communicate with the community. We believe that integrating youths at risk and law enforcement personnel right in the neighborhood will start a healing process; reduce violence; and expand friendly, congenial communication.

For more information about Peacemaker Corps Association, email Carole Sumner.

Carole Sumner
Special Contributor

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