A group of about 20 teenagers from different schools and different backgrounds gathered in a circle for the last day of the Peacebuilders & Justice program.
On June 30, it had been two weeks since the group first met for the summer program in Winston-Salem led by Triad Restorative Justice.
During that time, the teens got to know one another by discussing their identities, ideas about conflict and harm, needs, and boundaries. They talked about the social justice issues that got them “fired up” and developed ideas to solve those problems in one of the spaces they spend the most time in — school.
Ellen Fox, an education specialist who led the program, said the first four days were about creating a safe environment where the teens could trust each other and feel connected.
“And then on day five, we shift into the work,” she said. “And the professional work is, we want them to design some solutions that might make their school, which is the space where they have the most amount of power, a place that has more belonging.”
Fox didn’t tell the participants to focus on the aspect of belonging in schools, but through their conversations, that was what came up.