NYC-DR Roundtable Recap, January 2010

For those who miss the monthly NYC-DR Roundtable Breakfast meetings sponsored by ACRGNY and John Jay College due to schedules (yes, we are all very busy conflict resolvers) or due to locations (I guess everyone can not be in New York City), I plan to write a recap of each gathering I attend. You can join the listserv by clicking [here].

Note 1: this is not an official recap nor is it intended to be one but rather it is just a posting of my notes and recollection from the day.

Note #2: For this month I credit Maria Volpe for contributing to this recap as well as editing it...Thanks!I hope you enjoy and feedback is always welcome!
January’s roundtable featured Meridith Gould talking about conflict resolution programs in schools and how she feels many are neither appropriate nor effective. Wow!

Because of her powerful topic, the roundtable for January was in fact not a ‘roundtable’ at all because there were too many people for a roundtable discussion. The talk was moved to a bigger room to accommodate the large group.
Julie Denny, recent past president of ACR GNY, announced at the outset of the breakfast that over 80 people RSVP’d for the early morning event.

I would like to note that one thing that I always enjoy is the audience and the wide array of people present. This month was no exception. We had volunteer mediators, professional mediators, undergraduate and graduate students, teachers, court mediators, federal agency representatives, law enforcement (me!), and people from New Jersey, Connecticut and throughout New York.
So, onto the talk:

Here’s how the session was described in the announcement sent to the NYC-DR listserv:

January Roundtable speaker Meridith Gould will talk about why she believes many conflict resolution programs implemented in schools, after-school programs and community centers are neither appropriate nor effective in transforming the lives of many urban/low income youth. She will discuss the challenges that surface when organizations use mass-produced conflict resolution and empowerment programs that are not relevant to the students they serve.
Additionally, she will discuss how youth workers/educators can create programs for youth that are effective, fun and sustainable. She will share her “Empowering Youth: Student Success Model” that addresses the whole child and meets the needs of youth and their families in these communities. (See Meridith’s bio at the end of this entry).

What follows is a brief summary of Meridith’s remarks.

Meridith works on conflict resolution strategies for inner city youth. She did her dissertation on inner city African American adolescent girls focusing on self-image, empowerment, and conflict. She has consulted with the Big Brother/Sister Program in Atlanta.

Meridith’s Empowering Youth Model includes 23 skills which cover academics, personal life skills, and conflict skills. Originally designed for the Big Brother/Sister Program, her model can be modified. She is happy to work with anyone and everyone but reminded the audience that her model is copyrighted!

During the session, Meridith stressed:

· the importance of all skills being taught. The program has to be more than what some administrators ask for, namely “Getting kids to graduate.” It has to include social and emotional skills as well.

· that needs assessment is crucial and necessary when developing a program. Goals must be short term AND long term. Pre and Post assessment is a must.

· that programs and modules should not be lumped together into one mega module; instead, they should be sequenced with each one building on the previous segment.

· that programs should be systemic, sustainable and affordable!

· that programs must adapt to demographics and local cultures. Program activities must be relevant.

· that peer mediation/bully mediation programs should not be ‘the program’ but rather an ‘add-on’ or just a part of a larger program. There must be other trainings in addition to mediation.

· when analyzing a program, if it is not systemic, then is should be considered an ‘add-on’ and needs other programs/modules to complement it.

Meridith noted that people should decide who they are (labels, titles, etc.) with respect to diversity. People should be able to define themselves and we should avoid assumptions (race, ethnicity, etc.).

The drawbacks to some programs are their short term goals and lack of continuity of the program.

Bio: Meridith Gould has more than 13 years of experience in training and consulting. She has an MS in Dispute Resolution and is a Doctoral Candidate of Conflict Analysis and Resolution. She has worked as a professor at many premier universities in Atlanta, designing courses on conflict resolution, inter-personal conflict, anger-management, self-image and empowerment in women and girls and violence prevention. She has designed violence prevention, family empowerment, Mom/Daughter and empowerment programs. She has worked as a consultant and trainer designing violence prevention and intervention programs for community groups, government agencies, schools, universities, religious institutions and local non-profits. She is a certified mediator, violence prevention specialist and anger-management trainer. She is the co-author of “Conflict Resolution Strategies for Inner-City Youth” in The Praeger Handbook of Urban Education.

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