PHILADELPHIA (Oct. 27, 2004) — Attorney General Jerry Pappert today joined with School District of Philadelphia CEO Paul Vallas and Pennsylvania Bar Association President (PBA) Mike Reed to announce the adoption of the Project PEACE conflict resolution program throughout the Philadelphia public school system.
Project PEACE (Peaceful Endings through Attorneys, Children and Educators) is an innovative school violence reduction program that teaches elementary age students how to discuss and mediate disagreements peacefully. The program was developed in Pennsylvania and is a cooperative effort by the Office of Attorney General and the PBA. Additional funding is provided by the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation.
“It is important that our schools be places of learning, not places of fear or anxiety,” said Pappert. “The goal of Project PEACE is to help children develop the skills to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner, and I am happy to bring this program to Philadelphia, by far the largest school system in Pennsylvania.”
Pappert joined with Vallas and Reed to make the announcement during a Project PEACE rally at George Sharswood Elementary School in Philadelphia. Pappert pointed out that Sharswood was one of the first schools in Pennsylvania to adopt Project PEACE, shortly after the program was introduced in 2000.
“I believe Project PEACE will be a valuable part of the wide-reaching effort to address violence in our schools,” said Vallas. “The program brings everyone together – students, teachers, administrators, parents and concerned citizens – to emphasize the importance of settling disputes in a peaceful manner.”
Pappert said that over the next several months Project PEACE will be gradually introduced to all 58 K-8 schools in Philadelphia. With the support and direction of Vallas and the administration of the School District of Philadelphia, the Office of Attorney General and the Pennsylvania Bar Association will provide materials, training and expertise to help each school develop its own Project PEACE team.
“The Pennsylvania Bar Association is pleased to join with Attorney General Pappert and Mr. Vallas in offering this important peer mediation program to Philadelphia’s elementary schools,” said Reed. “Conflict resolution and problem-solving are important life skills, and we are happy to welcome the students, faculty and families of the School District of Philadelphia to Project PEACE.”
Pappert said that the bar association has been a vital co-sponsor of Project PEACE and works vigorously with the Office of Attorney General to expand the use of this unique anti-violence program.
Pappert also thanked Vallas and the leadership of the School District of Philadelphia, along with the faculty and staff of the district, whose support is vital to the success of Project PEACE.
The Project PEACE training model was developed by the Temple-LEAP program of the Temple University Beasley School of Law. Initially created for a program in Indiana, Project PEACE has since been modified to meet the needs of Pennsylvania's schools. Pennsylvania is only the second state in the nation to offer this type of peer mediation training to elementary schools.
“It is fitting that we make this announcement today at Sharswood Elementary School because this school is one of the Project PEACE pioneers in Pennsylvania,” Pappert said. “Thanks to our experience here at Sharswood, along with the lessons we have learned at other schools throughout the state, I am confident that Project PEACE will be beneficial to everyone involved.”
Pappert said that studies have shown that students at Project PEACE schools learn more about resolving problems without violence, they report less physical aggression at their schools, they have a greater ability to find solutions to their own problems and students are more willing to help other people resolve problems.
In the five years since Project PEACE was launched in Pennsylvania, more than 160 schools have adopted the innovative peer-mediation program.