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, has the effects of fear, impaired academic performance, diminished self-esteem, counter violence, and suicide. Violence against women is even more prevalent, where one out of four women is sexually or physically assaulted.
Responding to these problems, our mission is empowering youth and adults to prevent violence and transform conflict.
To this end we provide training, mentoring, and resources for youth and adults at our Peacemakers Academy in Goshen and in a variety of contexts.
- For youth, we have weekly training. To reach a range of youth, we offer seminars for schools, residential, community, and correctional centers and camps.
- For adults, we offer instruction for verbal and physical responses against violence. To address sexual violence, we teach men and women how to relate to each other with respect and safety.
- For schools, we provide programs and resources. Beyond equipping individuals, by working with students we seek to empower school communities.
- To extend our work elsewhere, we collaborate with area organizations and offer training for trainers and resources for people in other communities.
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.