The Cause

Peer Mediation And Skills Training (PMAST) strives to be the voice for alternative dispute resolution and conflict management among youth, helping them to deal with the issues of conflict they are facing in today\'s society. Our service model is focused on building strong youth and strong communities. We teach conflict resolution skills to young people, school staff, parents and the community; providing training to effectively use these skills in all areas of their lives.
Bullying and violence are two of the toughest issues facing youth today. PMAST has been very successful helping youth deal with these issues in Calgary high schools since our incorporation in 2003. It is our experience that the program is especially successful with kids at risk and the effects ripple out to families and communities. Unfortunately, programs are limited with funding.
In 2008 RAP in Saskatoon recognized the need of a proven service delivery model which worked for all youth, not just those considered \"at-risk\" and involved the entire community. They saw our model as a program which provided youth with core skills to prevent conflict and bullying, had appropriate interventions, fostered leadership in youth and reconnected disconnected students with their school, family and community. They recognized our model changed the culture of a school from one of conflict to a safer, more positive climate.
RAP implemented our program augmented by a full time qualified trainer/mediator. After a successful pilot, the University of Saskatchewan conducted research which validated the program as contributing to safety in schools, reducing bullying, increasing graduation rates and encouraging citizenship in youth. The program was established in all high schools in Saskatoon and this year was introduced in High Schools in Regina and Saskatchewan\'s Northern School District.

Who Will it Benefit?

We recognize that schools are a microcosm of the community. What exists in schools also exists in the community. This project involves the whole community. We currently have RAP in our first Alberta school providing services to create a strong, supportive school culture driven by the students. After one week they are planning for funding for the 2016-17 school year. Current services in that school range from providing mediation services to students, teachers, and parents, with referrals even coming from community outreach programs. Youth receive conflict management and leadership training focusing on developing communication skills, healthy choices, healthy relationships, empowerment, engagement, respect for others, responsibility, self-awareness, self esteem, sense of belonging, safety trust and understanding, all creating healthy, productive environments. Early results indicate young people involved in RAP get along better with peers, have lasting resolution to their conflicts, and are able to move forward with their lives. The skills from this program are changing their lives and those around them, for now and future generations.
The number of students directly receiving training depends upon school size (800-1500). All students benefit indirectly from interventions, mediations, changed behaviours in the schools and access to mediation services. PMAST programs also involve training for parents and school staff to facilitate this process with the youth. With continued teaching, mentoring, and building peer mediation teams in the schools, youth develop important life skills to deal with conflict and violence; and to be able to mentor and help one another. The impact of \"Youth helping Youth\" is very powerful.
The entire school community benefits with a significant reduction in disciplinary issues. While our focus is on youth, it is our experience that the benefits of this training ripples out into their families and communities.