Peace Learning Center

Peace Learning Center (PLC) is an Indianapolis-based organization that promotes peace building and character education. Just like the rules of the road for driving, PLC establishes safe and common ways to deal with conflicts and differences.

Started in 1997 in Eagle Creek Park, Peace Learning Center has reached more than 100,000 people. With a mission to promote a culture of peace through education to youth and communities, PLC believes all people have the capacity to resolve conflicts peacefully.

Peace Learning Center grew from a one building program with six staff to a three campus operation (Eagle Creek Park, Fall Creek Park, and Columbus Youth Camp) with thirty-five full-time personnel and a $1.2 million budget providing direct service to youth and adults who serve youth. Ninety-five percent of PLC funding goes directly into programs and services.

PLC has been honored with: the IUPUI - Chancellor’s Community Award for Civic Engagement - 2007,
Indiana Youth Institute - Youth Investment Award - 2006, Indiana Department of Education - Service Learning Star Award - 2006, the World Council of Churches - Blessed are the Peacemakers Award - 2004, Sam H. Jones Best of the Best Diversity Award - 2003, Indianapolis Education Association’s Spirit of Martin Luther King Award - 2003, Indiana Achievement Award for Innovation - 2001.

PLC has been recognized by the Indianapolis Crime Prevention Task Force report as “a local ‘best practice’ that has demonstrated the effectiveness of teaching young adults and at-risk youth creative ways of resolving conflicts, personal responsibility, and character building.” The report recommends an expansion of PLC middle and high school programs, as well as more work in juvenile justice.

Peace Education provides an interactive day of learning that includes follow-up lessons and an in-class mediation process. Students learn community leadership, conflict resolution, and non-violent self defense. Focusing on personal responsibility and critical thinking, youth participate in role plays and a nature walk.

Peace Learning Camp provides a three-day overnight experience at Columbus Youth Camp in Southern, Indiana. Students engage in small group learning about interpersonal communication, diversity appreciation, and environmental stewardship while improving their peacebuilding skills. High ropes challenge education, community responsibility, and traditional camping make an innovative, transforming program.

Hosting workshops on-site and at our campuses, participants learn to address the root causes of conflict through dialogue and active learning. Non-violent alternatives, conflict resolution, cooperation, empathy and self esteem are included in a wide variety of topics offered. Workshops from one-hour to five days engage youth in programming.

YOUTH INTERVENTION PROGRAMSPeace Learning Center facilitators serve youth involved in the criminal justice system. Participants are engaged in conflict resolution, personal responsibility and character building activities using challenge education and experiential learning.

SUMMER PROGRAMPeace Learning Center provides a full-day peace leadership experience that includes conflict resolution, diversity awareness, peer-to-peer dialogue and a nature walk. We invite summer camps, teen groups, and community organizations to engage their youth in learning.

From one-hour skill building workshops to three-day retreats, Peace Learning Center engages teams from schools, businesses, community and faith-based organizations to learn communication and peacebuilding skills. To plan services, Peace Learning Center conducts asset and needs assessments to tailor experiences to meet the group’s needs.

Beyond the focus on Central Indiana, PLC is becoming an international model for youth leadership in peace education. Over the last six years through networking and a strong Internet presence, PLC has participated in and been host to a wide array of international opportunities. A few examples include partnerships with the U.S. State Department, the Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem, Ambassadors for Children outreach to Belize, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Guatemala, as well as partnering with Indianapolis Rotary for programs in Jamaica. PLC also has hosted visits by students from Northern Ireland and the Philippines. In addition, PLC established the Help Increase the Peace program in Nigeria and Ghana as part of a United Nation’s effort to combat violence and increase understanding. These activities complement and enhance PLC’s work with Indiana’s youth.

Our Beloved Community Festival honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and is held at Christian Theological Seminary the Saturday before the MLK Holiday. Each spring, the Celebration of Peace brings together over 1,000 young people involved in positive community change. Beginning in 2007, PLC will host an annual event that will recognize its supporters and celebrate the year’s accomplishments.

Peace Learning Center is an exceptional example of public and private collaborations. PLC would not exist with out substantive community collaborations:
ï§ City of Indianapolis and the City of Lawrence provide program and administrative space at Eagle Creek Park and Fall Creek Park where youth and families attend workshops and cultural experiences.
ï§ Over 100 schools send their students to our three campuses for learning plus host our facilitators for in-class follow-up and experiences.
ï§ A diverse array of foundations, corporations, and individuals provide over $1,200,000 each year in funding to implement PLC programs.

Since 1997, Peace Learning Center has made great strides establishing itself as a community resource for peace and diversity education in Indianapolis. Through partnerships and collaboration, Peace Learning Center has accomplished many activities:
ï§ Provided intensive peace education to over 45,000 4th and 5th graders in the Indianapolis Public Schools and other students at Eagle Creek and Fall Creek Parks.
ï§ Instituted Peace Learning Camp for 8,000 6th grade participants - a three-day, two-night experience to learn how to peacefully deal with conflict and explore the natural environment.
ï§ Taught conflict resolution skills to over 9,000 young people from domestic violence shelters, summer camps, community centers, and after-school programs.
ï§ Established 35 school-based peer mediation programs, forming mentoring programs, Peace Clubs, and building strong community school partnerships impacting over 19,000 students, parents and school staffs.
ï§ Recruited, trained and employed over 2,500 community volunteers including church groups, first-time juvenile offenders, parents, K-12 and college students. Volunteers mentor, serve as peer mediators, teach peace, and help with renovations.

ï§ Completed evaluations of Peace Education and Peace Learning Camp that showed over 88% of participants learned at least three new ways to manage conflicts.

ï§ Decreased school suspensions by 68% in 12 schools with specialized peace services.

ï§ 83% of teachers report witnessing their students using skills learned at Peace Learning Center.

ï§ 71% of teachers report a reduction of fouls in their classroom (bossing, blaming, making excuses, name calling, etc.) six to eight weeks after their students attended Peace Education.

Everyone has conflict in their life. It is up to you to decide whether to take a conflict toward peace or toward violence. Here are peacemaking steps for conflict:

Stay Cool Are you ready and willing to solve this problem peacefully?
Talk about one point of view What happened? Why does it matter? How did it make you feel?
Explore their point of view What happened? Why does it matter? How did it make you feel?
Problem Solve What do you want to solve this problem? What are you willing to do?

Fouls are things not to do in a conflict - they take conflict toward violence:
NO Blaming, Bossing, Getting Even, Grabbing, Hitting, Lying, Making Excuses, Name Calling, Not Listening, Teasing, and Whining.

1. Try to resolve conflicts by looking for what we have in common.
2. Reach for that something in others that tries to be positive.
3. Listen and try to understand where the other person is coming from before making up my mind.
4. Be truthful. Try to find the truth; no position based on lies can last.
5. Be ready to change my position if I discover it is not fair.
6. Being clear about what I want gives me the power to act in a courageous and positive way.
7. I will not always be able to ward off danger. If I cannot avoid risk, I’ll try to risk being creative rather than violent.
8. Surprise and humor may help change the situation and the attitude and behavior of the people in the conflict.
9. Be patient and persistent in solutions to injustice.
10. Help build community based on honesty, respect and caring.
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