As the National School Walkout movement to fight gun violence continues across the country, RIPR's Chuck Hinman talked to two members of Providence's Youth Peace Ambassador Program, about their efforts to address violence inside their schools and their communities.
The Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence, in conjunction with the city of Providence and the RI Department of Health, has launched its Youth Peace Ambassador Program. The program held training sessions last December, specifically for Providence youth between the ages of 14 and 17. To attract interest, participants were offered $100 to complete the training program.
Kyle Rogers and Nefititi Robinson, both 16-year-old sophomores at The Met High School, are graduates of the program, and now work to spread the nonviolence message among their peers. Although they are enthusiastic proponents of the program, they admit they were initially attracted by the promise of a $100 payday:
"I could get my nails, my eyebrows and my hair done," said Robinson.
Rogers echoed that sentiment, saying "that's a pair of Pumas, that's a pair of Adidas."
But they both said their attitudes changed after the training began. Robinson said she began to see a new way to deal with her anger issues. Rogers also says his eyes were opened.
"Where I come from, violence is the way to solve all our problems," he said. "And I wanted to take the training even further than the paycheck, because I actually wanted to learn how to control my anger."
Rogers now works doing peer mediation at his school, something he could not have imagined before. Robinson counsels a second grade class of bilingual students, some of whom come from undocumented immigrant families and whose parents have been arrested. She said she understands their anger, and now has a way to help them.
"I took what I learned, and I'm making a project with them," she said. "I'm teaching them nonviolence is a way of life. So they can live by that."
Robinson said she sees the larger student push against school shootings and violence as something her generation has really taken to heart.
"Other generations before have tried, but haven't got as far as us. So for us to get this far, that should be a big eye-opener to everybody."