Every year, thousands of bullying cases are reported in Grand Rapids and area schools. This year, the Institute for Global Education (IGE) will launch a program that will look at bullying and violence in schools, and seek to reduce these numbers.
The IGE will partner with local organizations and professionals in order to create a Youth Task Force for Peace. The task force will consist of students from local High Schools who are committed to leading their peers against bullying, as well as educating younger students on leadership and non-violent resolutions to conflict.
The High School student mentors will undergo summer training and attend workshops centered on leadership skill building, conflict resolution and facilitation. Following training, a committee of student leaders will develop a curriculum — a program guide for the academic year that will guide student leaders in after-school sessions held at local middle schools. These after-school sessions will be taught by student leaders and will creatively explore conflict resolution. Each after-school session will have adult supervisors, which may be a professional, community member, encore volunteer (age 50+ population) or college mentor.
The curriculum will be culturally relevant to each school that participates in the program; and the student leaders will be a diverse group of students as well. Some student leaders on the Youth Advisory Board for Bridge the Gap Ministries have already expressed interest in aiding in the formation of the curriculum for the program, as well as helping provide leadership. At the end of the program year, encore volunteers and other adult mentors will meet with student leaders in discussing the program and building the curriculum for the following year. This meeting will create dialogue between generations that may not otherwise engage in discussion about peace-making and community building.
Because of the amount of commitment this program will require to sustain, we are currently looking for anyone interested in volunteering as an after-school session adult mentor. In addition, anyone interested in helping bring their knowledge of leadership, conflict resolution and team building to our program for the leadership training and workshops please contact Whitney Ehresman at: firstname.lastname@example.org.