Nonprofit Spotlight: The Peaceful Project
The Peaceful Project provides opportunities, methods, and tools that guide youth as they find and express their own inner wisdom.
“Our programs bring out the brilliance of each participant. When they access that, they can accomplish whatever they want,” said Pam Dunn, Founder of The Peaceful Project.
The Peaceful Project has served over 3,500 youth in four years through programs in the Normandy and Mehlville school districts. The Peaceful Project also operates in other states.
Their Community in Unity program is a social emotional learning program which focuses on:
- Building trust and trustworthiness
- Understanding feelings and developing enhanced self-regulation
- Expanding empathy
- Solving conflict peacefully
- Learning responsible decision-making
- Identifying and operating from one’s values
In this program, classes are visited weekly, using experiential learning to assist in building a safe school culture of compassion with heightened individual self-esteem, respect, and cooperation.
“We help young people understand that feelings are meant to be felt and teach them how to support each other,” said Dunn. “Together, they learn to trust and be trusted. Youth want to be able to communicate with their peers.”
A key component of the Community in Unity program is the Peace Table, where students learn how to go through conflict in a productive manner. The Peace Table uses prompts such as “I feel” and “Now, you tell me your side” to encourage peaceful conflict resolution.
The approach is asset-based rather than consequence-based: youth develop positive value statements such as “I am kind and caring” to reflect upon when at the Peace Table. If their actions do not match their value statement, youth learn responsibility and accountability for themselves and to others.
“I think that I’ve gotten some coping skills like when I’m upset and I want to be alone—I’m mad, and it helps me with my feelings,” said a 4th grade participant from Blades Elementary.
A school guidance counselor said, “I have learned so much from the sessions that The Peaceful Project has with my students. As a school counselor, I often must mediate conflicts, discuss bullying, and boost self-esteem. Strategies that The Peaceful Project introduces to my students and me are very useful. Recently, my students have been asking to use the Peace Table. It has worked magic to help relationships and foster friendships.”
The Peaceful Project is a participant in Give STL Day. Give STL Day is powered by the St. Louis Community Foundation and will take place on May 5, 2022.