The Peace Builders Initiative started in 2013 at Santa Barbara High School with a 12-hour training for 60 students. It has since grown to include San Marcos High School, Dos Pueblos High School, Santa Barbara Junior High, and La Cuesta Continuation High School.
The program serves to knit students together, increasing their acceptance and understanding of one another, and create a campus climate where excluded or marginalized students come to feel accepted.
This year, over 175 students were enrolled as new Peace Builders. In a three-day workshop and ongoing bi-monthly on-campus Peace Builders Club meetings, participants learn:
- How to deeply listen to one another and share authentically from the heart
- How to use inclusive and respectful language
- How to interrupt bullying and cruel behavior with curiosity and humor
- How to facilitate Connection Circles (a forum for deep listening and open sharing without cross-talk) for other youth and adults
- How to acknowledge and praise outstanding behavior of other youth and adults
- How to actively do things to help other people feel more welcome and cared for in school and in our community
- How to think and act restoratively instead of punitively
- How to use the PeaceQ web application (www.peaceq.com) to document their positive behaviors weekly
In 2014, 100 Peace Builders facilitated 1000 Connection Circles – enough to introduce 4000 additional peers and family and community members to this peace-building, community-building practice.
Since its beginnings, Santa Barbara School Superintendent David Cash has been a huge supporter of Peace Builders; he stated that “Peace Builders isn’t just a home run…it’s a grand slam!”