Expanding the pool of youth & adult mediators

Posted: Tuesday, January 06, 2004

If you're interested in learning communication and conflict resolution skills that will help your family, school, or work life, the Youth Mediation Program "Wants You!" According to Dave Athons, Center for Mediation & Community Dialogue (CMCD) volunteer, the Youth Mediation Program is a joint venture of the Kenai Peninsula Youth Court and the CMCD.

This month the program is putting on a drive to expand its pool of youth and adult mediators. Mediator training will be a 3-day overnight session taking place January 17-19, at Solid Rock Bible Camp in Soldotna, "The skills that we will be teaching in these classes are basic life skills of communication, problem solving, how to jointly solve problems, hopefully, before they do escalate into such things as crimes," said Athons. The training is open to those 13 years of age and older.

The need for new adult as well as youth mediators is an ongoing challenge says Athons. Youth mediators grow up and go off to college, so the need for training camps and enlisting new mediators is continuous and also provides opportunities for new adults to become involved and learn the problem solving techniques.

Rita Knorr is a junior at Nikiski High School and was first introduced to the Youth Mediation Program three years ago through the Kenai Peninsula Youth Court, "We wanted to implement a joint venture program with the Center for Mediation and Community Dialog that would allow us to mediate victim/offender and parent/adolescent type of conflicts, so about 5 of us took the training back in 2000," said Knorr. Rita says she has found great reward as a young person in giving back to the community and influencing other youth, "It's about resolving conflicts and getting past differences and coming to the happy medium for everyone involved," added Knorr, highly recommending the training camp for students who might be interested in becoming a mediator regardless of their academic level or grade point average. Mediation is a voluntary and cooperative problem-solving process in which a trained neutral, a mediator, helps parties communicate constructively and come up with their own solutions in a confidential setting.

The Youth Mediation Program features teams of volunteer youth and adult co-mediators who are available to mediate juvenile victim/offender cases involving parent-teen struggles over freedom and responsibility, neighborhood disputes between families, and conflicts that involve youth at school or in the workplace. According to Dave Athons scholarships are available for tuition and continuing education credits are offered through Kenai Peninsula College. Information about registration is available by e-mail at youthct@xyz.net or by calling 398-4027, or forms are available at the Kenai and Soldotna Libraries.

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