Restorative Schools: Early Diversion and Extrajudicial Measures (EJM) Pilot Project
A new grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Youth Opportunities Fund is allowing Peacebuilders to deepen our school engagement at a systemic level. We’re partnering with the Toronto District School Board, the Toronto Police Service, and Justice for Children and Youth to develop, implement, and evaluate an early- and pre-charge diversion pilot project for Toronto high schools. The pilot will complement the City of Toronto’s Extrajudicial Measures initiative by providing teachers, administrators, and police with training and resources to manage and defuse conflict that takes place on school grounds.
The project will be piloted at two Toronto high schools from September 2017 to April 2019. Our goal is to build a model for a lasting program of restorative practices in high schools to address student conflict and reduce harsh disciplinary policies. This program will build stronger communities, repair damage caused by conflict, and empower young people.
Our Restorative Schools program supports the implementation of the Safe and Caring Schools Act by introducing school administrators, students and teachers to restorative practices through Peacebuilding Circles. By engaging staff and students in open, respectful and honest dialogue about issues such as respect, bullying, gangs and violence, and introducing them to an alternative form of conflict resolution, Peacebuilders aims to improve school-based relationships and contribute to a safer school environment.
To date, over 2000 students and educators have participated in Peacebuilding Circle training and school workshops.
Eastdale Collegiate “Community Change-Makers” Program
Peacebuilders was been awarded a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to implement Peacebuilding Circles in a local high school, Eastdale Collegiate Institute! This program serves to demonstrate the benefits of having circles in schools.
Peacebuilders is now in its second year of implementing Peacebuilding Circles into Eastdale CI using a whole-school approach. The program is helping to create a stronger and safer community where everyone has an equal voice. Students and staff learn to listen to each other, share stories and experiences, and build respect and empathy.
The program incorporates three areas of Circles in order to create a culture of respect. Classroom Circles integrate curriculum into the process and support students and staff in exploring values, beliefs, having a voice, and provides a new platform for teaching and learning. Community-Building Circles seek to enhance communication and life skills, creating a more respectful and caring environment. Targeted Circles support individuals to repair relationships when there has been harm through supporting each participant in being heard and coming to consensus on how to move forward.
Peacebuilders is also training school staff, students, parents/guardians, community members, and police to use the Circles to support high-risk youth in having positive experiences in school, and diverting them from the justice system.
Through our continued relationship Peacebuilders has been invited to take part in many other aspects of the school, such as sitting on Committees and leading various clubs for students, such as Dance, Art, and Student Voice Clubs.
The Eastdale Community Change-makers Project is generously funded by: