Each of Mikva’s five high school Peace and Leadership Councils is slightly different — and Tilden PLC is no exception. This year, Mikva Challenge is partnering with Umoja Student Development Corporation and Lurie Children’s Hospital on the “Resilience and Voice Project,” where we aim to reduce violence and cultivate peace in school communities through the multi-tiered approaches of student support and empowerment. While statistics show that violence in Chicago is decreasing, still, almost half of violent crimes in the city involve school-age youth. This partnership seeks to curb violence by helping students heal from trauma, develop restorative ways to handle conflict, and build their leadership skills by making meaningful impacts in their school community.
Each partner of the R&V Project specializes in unique aspects of youth development — Umoja is a leading practitioner of Restorative Justice, Lurie Children’s provides clinical trauma care and interventions, and Mikva Challenge provides civic leadership development and research-based community problem-solving. In the R&V Project, Umoja, Lurie, and Mikva collaborate closely with one another and with the Tilden community to provide these specialized services, and to help strengthen the culture of peace-making at the school.
Umoja’s Peace Room at Tilden is a central component of the R&V Project, and is a centerpiece in diffusing conflicts in restorative, healing ways. Lurie has launched a CARE Team, which is a team of Tilden staff members and clinical school partners who provide targeted supports to students who have experienced trauma or need mental health services. Mikva’s Peace and Leadership Councils, known as Student Leadership Councils, are two organized bodies of students who conduct research on school issues, create recommendations, and partner with the administration to reach agreements about implementing student recommendations.
As part of the R&V Project, Mikva, Lurie, and Umoja are also active members of staff committees at Tilden that focus on student support. Through this immersion, we are able to work more closely with staff to address individual students’ specific needs, and we help build strategies around some challenges in the school community. Specifically, with the Student Leadership Council, students not only conduct their own research around school issues, but are also asked to provide input and collaborate on addressing issues that other school stakeholders identify.
Recently, the Tilden community, and the R&V partners, have began working together to promote healthy relationships among students. After Winter Break, the Student Leadership Councils will begin working on a series of Town Hall assemblies to have dialogues with their peers about positive interactions.