Promising Practices Program

Administering Organization

St. John's Mercy Neighborhood Ministry

Program Name

PeaceWorks

Program Objectives and Unique Needs Addressed

PeaceWorks seeks to build leadership skills, diversity awareness, and communication skills, especially in conflict resolution, among St. Louis area school children.

Program Description

PeaceWorks is a conflict resolution and peer mediation program in seven St. Louis area elementary and junior high-level schools. PeaceWorks trains faculty and students to help others work through conflicts, by empowering children with the skills and the tools needed to resolve conflict peacefully.

The program teaches problem-solving, appropriate expression of anger, appreciation of others' differences and similarities, and communication skills. In addition to conflict resolution skills, children are taught strategies to better regulate and control their own behavior.

The peer mediation program places "junior peace ambassadors" on school playgrounds, where arguments may go unobserved by faculty. PeaceWorks encourages students to report their conflicts to peer mediators, who help those involved in the conflict resolve to their differences.

Resource Materials Used in Program

PeaceWorks uses the curriculum of the Community Board program.

Groups Served by Program

PeaceWorks serves elementary and middle school children in seven schools, including Vietnamese, Bosnian, Hispanic, Afghan, and African children.

Program Funding

The Sisters of Mercy Regional Community of St. Louis' Catherine's Legacy grant provided the first three years of funding for PeaceWorks.

Program Staffing and Required Staff Training

PeaceWorks staff includes one Program Coordinator/Social Worker, and a teacher at each school who serves as Faculty Coordinator. The Program Coordinator has a Masters of Social Work degree.

Program Evaluation

PeaceWorks seeks to improve interpersonal understanding between children, and to help them address interpersonal problems before they can become violent. Conduct and attendance are reviewed, along with feedback from principals and faculty.

Program Outcomes

Implemented during the 1999-2000 school year, PeaceWorks was introduced to three elementary schools in south St. Louis. In 2001 it expanded to include three more schools, with more than 50 student "peer mediators" serving the schools. As of 2002-2003, PeaceWorks operates in seven schools. St. John's Mercy Neighborhood Ministry has found the program to be very successful.

Additional Comments

PeaceWorks relies on a close working relationship with the Catholic Education Office and individual school principals and faculty.

Program Contact

Julia Thornburg
(314) 865-0927
http://www.mercy.net/practice/mercy-neighborhood-ministry

Program Dates

This program began in the 1999-2000 school year; it is no longer operating.