Youth Peace Project expands at Cedar Rapids Schools

Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 3:23 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -More peace facilitators are in Cedar Rapids Schools this year than ever before. Kids First started the Youth Peace Project partnership at Cedar Rapids Schools six years ago. Since then it’s expanded to ten schools.

When peace facilitators through Kids First get word there’s a conflict at school, they work to address it before it escalates.

”We get referrals from the students themselves, from teachers, from administration,” said Judy Goldberg, Coordinator of the Kids First Youth Peace Project.

Goldberg is the peace facilitator at Wilson Middle School. She’s meeting with students daily to talk through issues using an evidence based script.

”We know that we have prevented fights for example, because when we hear rumblings we’re getting those kids together,” Goldberg said.

Participation is voluntary but most students in conflict have been on board.

”They want to address it they just don’t necessarily know how,” explained Angelina Ramirez, Kids First Peace Facilitator at McKinley & Metro.

Ramirez is in her first year as a peace facilitator. She says when school started she heard rumors there would be a fight between two students over a fall out they had during summer break.

”I met with each of them individually and when I talked to them individually right they told me they actually didn’t want to fight but they thought they had to,” she said.

They were able to resolve the issue before it got physical.

“A few weeks later they’re now sitting together at lunch everyday, they rekindled their friendship,” Ramirez said.

And it’s not just students participating in circles to resolve problems with their peers, but teachers too.

”Sometimes a student will think this teacher hates me, right, because maybe the teacher raised their voice when the teacher doesn’t have any animosity about that kid but the kid needs to hear it from the teacher,” said Goldberg.

Vocal Music teacher Reed Hoke has participated in circles with some of his students at Wilson Middle School.

”I’ve had a couple with some students that I felt like okay they could be doing better in class and I could probably do better with them if I kind of knew what was going on,” said Hoke.

He says those conversations helped.

This year the Youth Peace Project added three more facilitators for a total of seven at ten Cedar Rapids schools. This includes Grant Wood, Erskine, Hoover, Johnson, Arthur, Franklin, McKinley, Roosevelt, Wilson, and Metro High School.

Those with the project say it’s prevented fights and lessened bullying, all while restoring relationships.