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DVCC Announces the PeaceWorks Project

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January 13, 2009: “While it is likely that violence will never be completely eradicated from our world, we believe that the key to a less violent society lies in working with young people by teaching peaceful solutions to conflicts and empowering them to think critically and make safer choices.”

That quote from the introductory letter to the PeaceWorks Curriculum Book is the essence of the newly-focused and expanded education program offered to schools and community groups by the Domestic Violence Crisis Center.

While education has always been a priority at the DVCC, the PeaceWorks project has re-vamped its programs to focus on developing the tools needed for building healthy relationships.

“We have taken our curricula and really focused on healthy families, healthy peer relationships and healthy dating relationships, and on developing the social skills, emotional competencies and qualities of character, such as self-awareness, self-respect, empathy and tolerance, that are needed for healthy relationships,” said Sue Delaney, the Director of PeaceWorks. “The programs have taken on broader, more universal themes and have encompassed a wide spectrum of positive messages that will enable students to live violence-free lives.”

While the overall emphasis at PeaceWorks is to educate at every grade level, its message becomes even more significant and timely in light of emerging information that cyber bullying and dating violence are increasingly serious problems among teenagers.

“The ability to hurt or control someone else using technology is astoundingly easy and, unfortunately, has become all too prevalent a practice in teenage relationships,” said Kristen Pavlik, a PeaceWorks educator who teaches classes on cyber bullying.

Pavlik said that improved tools, such as huge, almost life-like puppets and new laptops have also increased the effectiveness and interactive abilities of the programs.

Another new tool is the Curriculum Book, an appealingly colorful and informative 60-page document that allows educators to view the wealth of programs that PeaceWorks offers at each grade level and to choose what best fits the needs of their students.

PeaceWorks materials were developed in collaboration with several highly-regarded educational organizations, including The Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, The University of Connecticut’s NEAG School of Education, The Family Violence Prevention Fund, Educators for Social Responsibility and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance Curriculum.

Individual programs include titles such as “Petals for Peace”, “Conflict Detectives”, “Anger Scientists”, “iRelationships”, “Behind the Smile” and “Gender in the Media”.

Programs are regularly updated and fine-tuned to ensure that they are current, timely and reflect the best thinking of experts in education.

Besides its school-based programs, PeaceWorks also offers:

  • PeaceWork SHOPS, afterschool programs for school and community groups. Here, the messages remain the same, but programs are creatively changed to fit the needs of students in those groups. Programs are currently offered in Norwalk at Fox Run Elementary School, Naramake Elementary School, Choices for Success, Girls’ Challenge at the Family and Children’s Agency and Grace Family Church.
  • Workshops and trainings for school staff and parent groups so that teachers and parents can reinforce the messages given to students.
  • The Teen PeaceWorks Project, developed to help teens become involved in issues around healthy relationships so that they can help educate their peers and hold awareness events. The project includes teens at Darien, Weston and Wilton High Schools and plans to expand to other high schools.

So far this year PeaceWorks is scheduled to make presentations in 26 schools and hold afterschool programs for six schools and community organizations throughout the  communities it serves. In fiscal year 2007 – 2008, PeaceWorks saw over 17,000 students.

The Domestic Violence Crisis Center is dedicated to the task of helping victims and their children find ways to live their lives in peace, without the threat of violence, intimidation or abuse. With a professional staff who have years of experience and expertise in the field of domestic violence, the agency offers free and confidential services that include court and legal services, group and individual counseling, temporary shelter, housing services, children’s services, medical advocacy,  multilingual services, prevention education and a 24-hour hotline (1-888-774-2900). With offices in Stamford and Norwalk, DVCC is the only domestic violence agency serving the communities of Stamford, Norwalk, Westport, Darien, New Canaan, Wilton and Weston.