Youth Voices - Empowering Students As Peacemakers

October 27 2015

As a Programs & Services Coordinator at Community Matters, I have the unique opportunity of working with hundreds of schools across the country to help them launch Safe School Ambassadors® (SSA)- our flagship bystander education and youth empowerment program. SSA equips diverse student leaders with the training and skills to stand up and speak out against bullying and mistreatment.

One of the best parts of my job is hearing student feedback on the two-day training. More than anything, their replies reaffirm my belief in the power of students as peacemakers, change agents and positive trendsetters.

At the end of every training we ask students: “What is the most important thing you learned?” Here’s what they say:

“We can make a change. We have power. We are not insignificant”- Benicia High School, CA

“That we can help kids in need.” - Riverside Prep Academy, CA

“To stand up for what is right.” - Riverside Prep Academy, CA

“To be brave and solve problems in a positive way.” -Lee High School, TX

“How to prevent conflict.” -Lee High School, TX

“SSA showed me that I could be there for people and comfort them.” –Fairfield High, CA

“To treat others how you want to be treated.” - Harvard Jr. High, IL

“How to stand up to an aggressor without being an aggressor.” -Temple High School, TX

 “How to put an end to negative situations.” -Benicia High School, CA

 “That everyone has a story and that I am not alone.” Riverside Prep, CA

“I am so filled with knowledge and tools- I’m ready to take on the world!” -Temple High School, TX

I feel hopeful when I read these quotes. Don’t you? In a world too often dominated by negative headlines, I feel hopeful when I see children becoming more empathetic and compassionate. I feel hopeful when I see students from diverse backgrounds learning one another’s story, realizing that they are not alone. I feel hopeful when I see elementary, middle and high school students equipped with tools they can employ to stand up for those who are put down and include those who are left out.

Think about this: when invited to participate in Safe School Ambassadors®, 97% of students say yes. Students want their schools to be safe, welcoming and inclusive. And they want to be part of the solution as leaders and peacemakers. Are you ready to let them? We’re here to help.

Learn more about the Safe School Ambassadors® program here

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