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AE Documentary Film Project > Bronx Action Pro Peace (el Bronx, Accion Pro Paz)

an initiative in nonviolence of urban visions, inc.

Dr. Evelina Antonetty's life affirmed that our young people can achieve good lives through their own efforts with the guidance of elders and the community. Under her guidance youth and elders once again made "education, empowerment and peace" priorities in schools and community. The purpose of this proposal is to reinstitute a culture of peace in South Bronx. School, church, agency, family and street organizations would identify and train young peacemakers. The aim would be to build a core of "peace warrior-facilitators" who together can increase the peace, promote community and work toward a just society.

Bronx Action Pro Peace ("BAPP") with Community School Districts 7, 8, 9 and 12 will identify eight (8) middle schools and four (4) receiving high schools (including charter schools like Fannie Lou Hamer School) as collaborators. At geographically spaced centers (schools, churches and agencies) after-school training will reinforce and extend conflict resolution training, especially relating physical aikido skills to verbal ones (as tested in Freeport High School) to reach a wider group of youth and to coordinate with evening training at Bronx Peace Village.

The strategy of Urban Vision's work with youth is to combine physical with verbal conflict resolution using the model Simeht, Ltd. originally developed for the Alternatives to Violence Project, Inc. in 1986 and refined in the Bronx Peace Village at the Latino Pastoral Action Center, 1997-2000 (Pentecostal), Iglesia la Resurrecci�n, 2000- (Metodista) and Immaculate Conception Church, 2001-2002 (Roman Catholic). It is now based at F.R.I.E.N.D.S, a social service agency. The Peace Village combines training in the nonviolent martial art, aikido, with conflict resolution, meditation, council circle, body awareness (yoga) and break dancing (Hip-Hop).

Urban Visions would contract with Simeht Ltd. for use of its facilitation manual and methods; it would also engage Simeht Ltd to handle its bookkeeping and finances.

Simeht's methods (called "I-Key Workshops") are thoroughly experiential. Participants experience a series of "rites of passage" that are roughly equivalent to testing and promotion in martial arts. In them they learn essential life skills organized into the areas of "affirmation," "attention," "trust (or community) building," and "transformation." In each they learn breathing and body management skills that support and shape the verbal skills of affirming, listening, empathizing and negotiating.

Through Simeht, Urban Visions has credibility in the communities of faith, the street, schools, martial arts, agencies and with the peace officer community. It has a core group of Simeht facilitator-trainers, a tested training manual and an ongoing support organization, the Bronx Peace Village and access to people in mental health, meditation, stress reduction and interpersonal and substance abuse intervention and prevention.

The goal of BAPP over five years will be to institutionalize Bronx Peace Village as a values training center in physical and verbal nonviolence with a facility designed and a staff dedicated to that mission. During 2002 we would use our current facilities at F.R.I.E.N.D.S, and would locate and prepare a larger local facility to accommodate the new training schedule and more complex operation (and would include training at churches and agency(ies) even as the program expanded).

We will use somewhat different strategies to reach the faith, agency, family, education and street organizations and possibly the police. However, the differences only reflect different applications of the same principles: e.g. meditation will be central in training people of faith, and safe, nonviolent restraint in that of peace officers. Nevertheless the core values of "affirmation," "attention," "community," and "transformation" will remain constant.

During 2001 and early 2002 we will assemble and train facilitators in our methods (primarily in collaboration with the faith, street and agency communities) and will complete their preparation by training the first groups of participants in the faith, agency, school and street communities. We will also approach the N.Y.C. Police Department (NYPD) to explore both its readiness and conditions for participation. With the start of school in September 2002 we would expect to train participating public school and C.B.O. conflict resolution staff and peer counselors.

In 2002 the trained facilitators will divide into training teams in the schools, community agencies, faith-based and family/street organizations. Over the following three years their efforts will focus on "turnkey" training. They will continue to train participants, then identify and train both potential facilitators and coordinators for the respective organizations. As local capacity grows they will support them in taking over the entire process themselves.

Community School Districts training will combine teachers and students of existing peer mediation programs, faith based youth staff and C.B.O staff developers. BAPP will assemble a joint training for all the teams. Each team then will receive staff development support aimed at moving the school, agency or religious culture towards nonviolence and conflict resolution. At after-school centers, training will reinforce and extend school training as developed in Freeport High School. After-school training will focus on relating physical aikido skills to verbal ones, reaching a wider youth audience-including their parents-and coordinating with evening training at Bronx Peace Village.

In faith and agency centers BAPP will provide staff development to help them deliver I�Key training and develop peer mediation. Participant training led by center staff will occur primarily after school and in the evening in the context of a "peace dojo." BAPP will adapt its training to connect with the language and principles of each organization (using methods developed at the Latino Pastoral Action Center) while also reinforcing basic conflict resolution language used in school conflict resolution and mediation.

Reaching street organization youth and adults will proceed as it has through Simeht, Alternatives to Violence Project (including its "Landing Strip" support group of ex-prisoner facilitators) and the Bronx Peace Village. Since a number of street leaders already have begun to participate, a few having become facilitators, BAPP hopes to hire several as staff.

NYPD school cadres should be important in carrying out this proposal. They are a unique resource in the schools, because they are the only full-time peacekeepers. However, police participation in the project will need ongoing political encouragement at the highest level. Therefore we consider this separately at the end of this proposal and have not budgeted it.

Finally, any project to change culture requires the participation and assent of the people affected to assure that it fits their needs. BAPP will recruit an oversight board of community leaders and recognized experts in education, justice, conflict resolution and aikido with power to evaluate and guide its work. They will visit sites individually and convene semiannually to examine progress, discuss issues and provide support and correction. Since these responsibilities are real, not pro forma, services with significant commitments of time, members of the oversight board will receive honoraria and travel costs.


Staff of PS183, Manhattan and Ira Steinberg, NY Aikido Club, completed a three-day I-Key Basic Workshop at the elementary school. The first workshop session builds a participant community and establishes "emotion as an action in the body" (Paul Linden); the second session develops the skills of "aiki" movement in relation to conflict resolution; the third focuses on running a peace dojo. Bill Leicht and Milton Roman facilitated the workshop for Urban Visions, Inc. Three teachers, Guidance, 5th Grade and Reading Remediation, graduated and will help to "turnkey" the PS183 Peace Dojo this year. Another NY Aikido Club member, Sen Osato, volunteers regularly at the dojo. You can see pictures of the peace dojo in action on the website,

For further details, contact Bill Leicht





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