The Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy led me to think about how the dialogue in our country needed to move away from "security" and "keeping the bad guys out" to a focus on peace, wholeness, well being, and a reinforcement of the message from a very early age that "YOU MATTER". From this, my idea to develop "Peace Centers" in elementary schools began to take shape - to create a comforting, non stigmatizing space within an elementary school to give children access to a Peace Counselor, to acknowledge the range of feelings they experience, to teach mindfulness and give them space to just be.
This is a phenomenal program that really goes to the heart of the needs of mothers who have experienced severe trauma. Being able to provide support in their homes and also being able to zero in on their legal needs are two huge unmet needs for many young mothers with children. At The Bridge we currently run a program for young mothers who are challenged with addiction and our one on one counseling is a key component of connecting with these young women - giving them validation and hope and letting them know that they matter - is so important. Keep up your great work! Inya Chehade
Thank you Lee! We have a very robust research team in place and they have been data collecting and setting up the framework for evaluation in year one. We won't have any data analyzed until we're well into year 2. That said, anectdotally we are getting some wonderful feedback from the principals, parents and students about this program. What we are hearing is that this project seems to really be touching on a great need - the need for connection, safe space, destigmatization, and an overall culture shift within a school. The fact that we have four elementary schools involved is really inspiring - think about four different principals, four different school cultures, four different groups of children and parents who all bring their perspectives to this project. As far partnering with middle and high schoolers, I completely concur! We actually have a full-time Bridge counselor who works at the local high school with our students and we would love to integrate them into this program in some meaningful way. We were limited to working with elementary students for this particular project because of the way the grant funding was structured; but in theory, this program should span from elementary through high school. I love peer education and would also love to hear more about your work and model. This is a great forum to bring together lots of wonderful ideas and see what collaborations/idea sharing come out of this! Inya Chehade
Thank you Melanie! We are so excited about The Peace Model Project. With a year under our belt, the model is being solidified, modified, and expanded to adjust to the needs of each of our elementary schools, yet the overarching themes of safety, wellness, comfort, support, and reducing stigma and shame are front and center in each of our schools. Having the strong partnership of our local school district along with our mental health organization has been the key foundational piece to The Peace Model Project. Yes, we love our tagline too - if you look at our Bridge logo, you'll see it personifies those words - the logo reflects a group of individuals, all different shades of the same color purple, in a circle embracing each other and their embracing arms create "hearts" between them. That's what it's all about - Healthy Minds. Healing Hearts. Peaceful Communities.