Promoting peace among Monroe County youth

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Students from Monroe County schools were in attendance at the 21st Annual “Education for Peace” conference at the Rochester Institute of Technology on Monday.

Education for Peace is a non-profit organization for students kindergarten through grade 12 to promote peaceful coexistence within the school and the community.

“We want them to have a brighter future and that’s what this is about, having them have a future,” Co-President of Education for Peace Pastor Donald Stevens said.

He says it is important to start this education early.

“When you start dealing with them at this young age, and certainly while they’re teachable, they can see how to resolve conflicts and certainly with peer mediation, they can deal with folks in their own grades,” Stevens said.

Staying away from violence and teaching someone how to work out a problem is what board member Larry DeBellis has spent his life doing.

“I was a probation officer in family court and I worked with a lot of young people that had anger issues and had conflicts, and sometimes got into the system because of the problems they had with not being able to know how to solve disputes in a peaceful way,” DeBellis said.

After he retired from being a probation officer he moved to the city school district as a peer mediation coach and a conflict resolution teacher.

“I think that we need to bring our students the message, and promote the message, that there are ways to deal with our conflicts and our disputes that are productive,” DeBellis said.

Learning how to talk through problems is the main goal of Education for Peace.

“We think that this is going to be helpful not just to their schools, to their neighborhoods, to their homes, and certainly to their city. And we can make a better place for them to dwell,” Stevens said.