In last week’s blog we shared Jennifer Freed’s “formula” for social-emotional learning: attitude + harmony = achievement. The second component, harmony, is the focus of Jennifer’s newest book, PeaceQ, a guide to developing the capacity to be peaceful in all aspects of life. “It’s up to all of us to be active, conscious and kind so that we craft a future where everyone feels safe and welcome,” Jennifer said. This belief is behind not only her book, but also AHA! Peacebuilders -- a program that trains teens in restorative practices, compassionate communication, positive inclusive language, and other skills -- as well as the PeaceQ web application, which helps Peacebuilders put what they’ve learned into practice and measure it in their communities. In the past two years, more than 170 teens have been trained through the Peacebuilders program, who, in turn, have reached out to over 7,000 others.
Like Jennifer, at TMH we believe that both internal and social harmony can be taught and cultivated. Cultivating a peaceful community in which everyone feels welcomed and accepted is at the core of our mission, and we promote this through emphasizing the values of respect, communication, and collaboration. We believe it’s essential to develop these skills and values in children at a young age through targeted education in peacebuilding skills as well as relationships with adult mentors who model kind and respectful behavior.
A first step in building any community is establishing a common set of values to which everyone ascribes. Who better to decide on these values that the kids themselves? We asked our students: “What’s important to the Meeting House community?” and here is what they came up with...
Learning and practicing social-emotional skills has never been more important. As Jennifer noted during our interview, “youth take on the attitudes they see, and with statistics coming out every day showing the escalation of hate speech and bullying, it’s almost like we are giving them permission.” Programs like AHA! and TMH provide alternative messages and models for youth and teens, while also giving them the tools they need to create communities that exemplify their values. Based on the list above, the community our students envision is one we should all aspire to bring to life.