Teen mediators have been a key component of a restorative justice practice that started with a small group of Garfield High students trying to reduce school suspensions.
The practice recently expanded into a King County Juvenile Court pilot program for juvenile offenders, and the County is looking for more high school student mediators to contribute to both high school and court restorative justice efforts.
Monday, Jan. 11 is the deadline to apply for the new instruction program that is now open to all high-schoolers in King County. Participants will need to attend all training sessions, which will be held in South Seattle on January 13, 14, 20 and 21 from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. All youth living in or attending high school in King County are eligible for the training.
The restorative justice process gives victims and offenders a chance to meet and discuss the harm that occurred, work towards building understanding, rebuilding relationships, encourage accountability and healing.
Teens will be trained to co-mediate sessions with an adult mediator to help provide balance between the parties, increase the comfort level of the participants, and provide increased levels of understanding.
Teen mediators will not only bring their skills to work within their high schools and broader communities, but also receive community service hours. They will be volunteering through the King County Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution.
The court’s Restorative Mediation program handles cases that include offenses such as vehicle prowl, vandalism, minor assaults, theft, intimidating a school official, possession of stolen property, harassment, cyberstalking and residential burglary.
Polly Davis, who will be leading the training, said she’s watched both teen co-mediators and teen offenders feel empowered to heal their communities through restorative mediation sessions.
“In addition to this being an incredible leadership opportunity for the kids at Garfield and other local high schools, youth co-mediators help that other youth be seen in a different way,” Davis said in a Q & A earlier this year. “They can say, ‘Here’s someone who’s going to help me tell my story.’”
To apply, high school students need to return the following to Davis at Polly.Davis@KingCounty.gov by Jan. 11 (deadline was extended.
• A completed application
• Can be completed during or after training: A letter of recommendation from a school teacher or community member
Please circulate this post and application to schools and youth who can pass on the word that applications are due soon.