independent

Sunday 22 July 2018

Rotarians help students learn about conflict resolution

Mallow Rotary this week presented a student-led project that ranged from organising discussion groups to improving school environments, tackling homophobic language in school, setting up workshops to help other students deal with cyber-bullying or bringing school rivalries together to sort out differences.

Rotarian Jean Best presented a two-day course on Peace Advocacy in Mallow College of Further Education on Monday and Tuesday of this week. The course participants included teachers and students from seven secondary and post- secondary education institutions as well Rotarians from Cork and Kerry. Best was honoured this month as a Champion of Peace during Rotary Day at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

Through her involvement with Rotary as a Peace Officer, in collaboration with her husband Keith and The Peace Centre in Bradford, Jean has developed peace conflict resolution strategies with second level students in mind.

This peace advocacy/conflict resolution programme seeks to assist young people as they tackle the new challenges of modern life. For example, 73% of young people who have been bullied by social media, email or text said that they know their tormentors. Left unchallenged, such negativity can lead to poor self- image, or more seriously, to self-harm.

Jean brings her former career experience, first as a teacher in England and then as a head teacher in Scotland, to this conflict resolution programme. The programme's standing has led to its integration into the second level school syllabus in Scotland.

The course programme involves a range of inter-active activities. It is a sharing experience with an element of peer to peer learning, rather than young people being instructed what to do.

The programme sets out to develop the three major skills in conflict resolution: Collaborative Conversation, Purposeful Listening and Purposeful Speaking.

Following the presentation of Peace Advocate Certificates on finishing the two-day course, it is hoped that the newly minted Peace Advocates will initiate their own projects and put the skills they have developed into practice. This could range from organising discussion groups to improving school environments, tackling homophobic language in school, setting up workshops to help other students deal with cyber-bullying or bringing school rivalries together to sort out differences.

Corkman

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