Since 2013, the North Shore Restorative Justice Society (NSRJS) has been facilitating the Schools Initiative across North Shore elementary and high schools with tremendous success. Our Schools Initiative utilizes a strengths-based education approach to provide children and youth the skills to transform conflict, heal relationships and create stronger communities. This Initiative was developed in response to the high number of youth files NSRJS has received from police over the last 21 years through our Restorative Response program. Many youth end up in conflict with the law because they feel isolated, excluded and have not learned effective conflict management skills. The Schools Initative is a direct, preventative response to these issues.
We are the proud recipients of the District of North Vancouver's 'Outstanding Supporters of Youth' Award in 2017.
Circles in Schools:
Circles in Schools began as a pilot project in 2013 when NSRJS provided two weekly Circles in a local elementary school. In less than five years we have grown to provide up to 30 weekly Circles to over 20 schools across the North Shore.
The Circles in Schools program works within the social and emotional learning frameworks being used in individual classrooms, and covers many of the topics within the Personal Planning curriculum. Every week, trained facilitators sit in circle with students, teachers, administrators, and support staff, and lead a series of developmentally appropriate activities and discussion that result in a greater awareness of themselves and others. Topics include: identity, diversity and stereotyping, empathy, peer pressure, mediation and conflict-resolution, self-inquiry, self-awareness, self-regulation, community building, and communication, as well as distinguishing between needs, rights and responsibilities. These issues reinforce the core competencies of the new BC curriculum, particularly the Personal & Social, and Communication competencies.
The long-term goal of the Schools Initiative is to build a restorative culture within each school community. This means that restorative values and practices are utilized beyond each classroom participating in the weekly Circles.
Quotes from students:
“I really liked learning about other people and being able to find topics where we had the same point of view. Circles really made a lot of personal connections for me and I feel I got to know some people better.” - J, Gr 6
“I enjoyed everything about circle. It was great to learn new things about myself and open up and talk about things I wouldn’t normally.” – E, Gr 11
“There is no words for how much this helped me understand where people are coming from and learn a lot about them.” – S, Gr 4