Community Does Matter – The Longing for Belonging

March 17 2015


  • Laurie Marshall, CM Trainer
    Laurie Marshall
    CM Trainer

For the past year, I have been a trainer for an amazing non-profit called Community Matters.  Founded in 1996 by visionary educator Rick Phillips, this organization makes sure that COMMUNITY MATTERS. They do that, in part, by creating and delivering the evidence-based Safe School Ambassadors Program (SSA) that empowers elementary, middle and high school students to recognize mistreatment when it’s happening, to have the courage and skills to intervene, and to transform it into self-awareness, kindness and compassion.

A collaborative drawing made by two high school Safe School Ambassadors (SSA) and myself during our training in Temple, TX.

Over the past few months I’ve travelled to schools in Minnesota, North Dakota, Illinois, Texas, South Carolina and throughout California to deliver the SSA 2-day training to students who are chosen by their peers as leaders in their individual cliques.  After the training, a handful of teachers who also participated in the training, meet with the students on a regular basis to support the real-life application of their newly-acquired peace-making skills.

I am honored to be a part of such an intelligent and effective approach, which helps the students understand that the longing for belonging is the key to stopping exclusion and having the courage to stand up for justice.

Here’s a sampling of what high school students from Temple, Texas said about what they liked most about the SSA program’s training, and what they learned during the 2-day process:

“I learned that I’m not alone and everyone has problems like me.”

“I couldn’t believe the honesty and respect that we had for each other.”

“I appreciated the togetherness with people that I typically wouldn’t get to know on a deep level.”

“I learned that the person who is getting hurt will [likely] hurt [others].”

“I realize that you can’t hate someone if you know their story.”

“The SSA program shows us how much of a difference we can make in our school.”

“I learned that in order to help, you must first have awareness.”

“The best part was understanding how to accept people for who they are and to treat them how I wanna be treated.”

“The most important thing I got was how to stand up to an aggressor without being an aggressor.”

“I’m so filled with knowledge and tools – I’m ready to take it to the world.”

“I wish everyone could do this program and show how they can use their skills positively."

When was the last time you heard students so deeply engaged in their learning and so emotionally impacted?  Empowering youth with emotional intelligence and influence is how we will beat the odds. I’m so grateful that I get to be an integral part of it. Community DOES matter!

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