Since the fall of 2000 when our work began in Goshen, Indiana we have addressed violence among youth and against women. The United States has the highest rates of youth violence in the developed world. Violence among youth, ranging from bullying to school shootings, creates fear and leads to impaired academic performance, low self-esteem, poor emotional control, and even suicide. Violence against women is equally traumatic and prevalent, with one out of four women experiencing sexual or physical assault.
We teach positive alternatives to violence with training that integrates conflict transformation and martial arts skills, a proven means to increase self-control, reduce violence, and promote peace. Through exercises, physical training and role-plays, youth learn how to deal with inner struggles, interpersonal conflicts and threatening situations. They learn how to manage fear, anger and aggression. They learn courage, self-control and problem solving skills. But most of all, we build self-esteem and respect for one another as a foundation for peace.
We aim to empower people to promote peace in their spheres of influence. Through this we hope to extend peace beyond interpersonal relationships to the community and to the larger world.
We provide weekly classes, seminars, peace camps, and safety training in a variety of settings. We have conducted programs at our city’s Boys and Girls Club, a psychiatric hospital, a residential center for youth, and local schools and churches. We also have our own Peacemakers’ Academy located on Main Street in Goshen, Indiana.
We want to see other communities develop their own programs and hope we can learn from each other on how best to train people in preventing violence and transforming conflict.
As a Peacemaker seeking to prevent violence and transform conflict, I pledge to:
Have esteem for myself and respect for others.
Set my heart to courage and my mind to wisdom.
Be responsible for my emotions and actions.
Act with honor, compassion and self-control.
Use my head rather than my hands in conflict.
Seek to do no harm to others or myself, and
Resolve problems in positive ways for peace.