The Whatcom DRC in Bellingham, Washington welcomed two, young Conflict Resolution Specialists from AmeriCorps whose focus was on increasing problem solving, conflict resolution, and communication skills in fourth- to twelfth-grade youth. The AmeriCorps mediation program primarily engages with youth in school settings or individuals who are referred by the Juvenile Court.

Two new AmeriCorps volunteers join the team

The WDRC welcomed two specialized volunteers to the Youth Program: Nicole Banks and Mckenna Paddock who each devoted five to ten hours a week to the program. Once they became familiar with the administrative tasks necessary to maintain the program, they often had the opportunity to observe the DRC’s school-based youth classes and receive training to become co-facilitators.

Youth volunteer mediators learn while in the field

In February, Mckenna and Emily facilitated a four-week conflict resolution workshop for a group of fifth graders at Lowell Elementary School. The workshop was appropriately titled Dealing with Conflict and covered the roots of conflict, Kraybill’s conflict strategies, how to manage strong emotions, active listening tips, and how to create I-statements. Throughout the sessions Mckenna observed and took notes on both the content of the workshop and the facilitation styles.

Teaching a class of her own

Just a month later and Mckenna was ready to co-facilitate a class of her own at Columbia Elementary School. The class was a particularly rowdy group of fifth graders and Mckenna did a great job on integrating casual classroom management reminders into her facilitation.

Are you interested in becoming a mediator?

Over 9,986 Washington State residents received mediation training at DRCs in 2013. To find a DRC in your area check out our DRC directory.