MINNEAPOLIS (April 10, 2014) — As part of National Youth Violence Prevention Week—happening April 7-13, 2014 — the City of Minneapolis, in collaboration with PeaceMaker Minnesota, Minneapolis Public Schools, and Minneapolis Youth Congress is recognizing 11 local adults and students who are making a difference to address youth violence and foster community peace in Minneapolis schools.
Two students and two adults received the 2nd annual “PeaceMaker” award and seven people were also recognized last night at an awards ceremony for their efforts to make Minneapolis a more peaceful city. The award recipients will also receive $875 for their schools to continue to promote peace and non-violence.
The Peacemaker award recipients are:
• Khadra Ibrahim (Student)
Last year, Khadra co-created a student-led Anti-Bullying Club at Southwest High School to address bullying problems within the school. The club developed programs and workshops and petitioned the school administration for time during the school day when the club could conducted sessions for freshman and sophomore groups.
Khadra is also a founding member of the school’s Muslim Student Association. This group started this fall, and is dedicated to opening the dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims at Southwest. The group has planned and implemented several after school informational and question and answer sessions, which have been well attended by students and staff. They also planned and held a school-wide auditorium Muslim culture celebration that included skits, spoken word poetry, music, and a fashion show.
• Kyra B. Hood (Student)
Hood is a student at South High School who is part of the school’s s.t.a.r.t. program (students together as allies for racial trust) that works to develop students as racial equity leaders and close opportunity gaps in their community. This year, Hood has been a liaison between student groups as part of s.t.a.r.t.’s leadership team been able to align many more students in her school to the s.t.a.r.t. mission of engaging students as leaders in closing equity gaps and fostering a peaceful school climate. Kyra has also represented s.t.a.r.t at many events in the community including the annual Kwanzaa event hosted by the We Win Institute and a workshop at the Twin Cities Social Justice Fair in October 2013.
Kyra’s communication with educators following the event resulted in an invitation for s.t.a.r.t. students to co-develop teaching curriculum for the Associate Dean in the U of M’s College of Education and Human Development. The curriculum will eventually be used throughout the state by the Minnesota Minority Education Partnership (MMEP).
• Larry McKenzie
Since taking over as basketball coach at North Community High School, McKenzie he has quickly taken on the mentor/father role with the students at the school. His leadership challenges students to not only pursue excellence with sports but excellence with homework. His mentorship has provided students with healthy social and emotional support that can be trusted.
Coach McKenzie understands the importance of including parents, guardians and sincere community members and organizations in his strategic plan for success which is working.
• Rebecca Stewart
Stewart is a licensed school social worker at Minneapolis Public Schools’ River Bend Program; a small, self-contained site designed to serve students with the highest levels of emotional and behavioral needs. Part of Stewart’s work involves promoting mindfulness, self-awareness, positive social interactions, and peaceful conflict mediation.
Stewart has designed an innovative mind/body class that integrates Yoga practices, social-skills curricula, mindfulness, creative arts and visits from trained therapy dogs. She sees each elementary student in the program twice a week to offer stillness, silence and positive skill-building opportunities.
Students also learn to pay attention to their own emotions and the feelings of others, to practice optimism and gratitude, and to spread kindness and positivity throughout the school and beyond. The impact of this program is wider than just the student population. Staff members who assist in the Mind/Body classrooms have reported that they themselves are applying strategies of mindfulness in their own lives, and teachers share that students are practicing what they have learned across settings.
National Youth Violence Prevention Week is part a national public education initiative featuring activities and events to call attention to the issue of youth violence, identify strategies to combat this public health epidemic, and promote the positive role youth and adults can have in making their communities and schools safer.
Youth violence is the second leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 10 and 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Reducing youth violence requires a collaborative approach joining City and State agencies, community-based organizations, and residents toward a common vision.
As part of its youth violence prevention efforts, in 2006, the City declared youth violence to be a public health concern and formally launched the “Blueprint for Action” in 2008 with these goals: connect every youth with a trusted adult; intervene at the first sign that youth are at risk for violence; restore youth who have gone down the wrong path; and, unlearn the culture of violence in our community.