Winston Blake, Executive Director, Restorative Action Program
PROGRAM SUMMARY: The Restorative Action Program (RAP) is a 15-year-old community-based initiative that is hosted in high schools and sustained through the shared responsibility of multiple partners and other supportive organizations and citizens. RAP works with youth to develop and practice conflict management, relationship management and leadership skills using a restorative justice framework that focuses on prevention, intervention and re-connection (PIR).
This presentation will provide participants with knowledge and understanding of how this proven restorative justice framework works with youth to address bullying, physical violence, crime, mental health, substance abuse and suicide/self-harm. Special focus will be given to understanding the processes needed to build and sustain restorative justice practices in schools and how to collaborate with multiple stakeholders. In addition to the broad foundations provided to build capacity to effectively work with youth, participants will also learn how to develop their own restorative justice strategies based on RAP’s PIR service delivery framework.
Research and findings from an eight-year study of RAP by the University of Saskatchewan’s Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science & Justice Studies will be highlighted to illustrate the success of the RAP framework in nine Saskatoon high schools.
For those of you that are unaware of what the RAP program is, it is a community initiative that is focused on shared responsibility of multiple partners and other supportive community organizations and citizens to help youth:
- RAP serves 8000 people and is not just for kids at risk, it is for all youth because all youth can be at risk.
- It is a restorative solution that is more beneficial, as it is able to help a greater number of children, many who are normally ignored.
- RAP workers are less threatening and provide much needed support that social services are not able to give.
- By trying this different approach students are able to feel comfortable in ways that they normally wouldn’t, and they are able to look at things from a different perspective.
- The comfort which a RAP worker provides, allows students to get the help they need without feeling afraid.
- RAP counselors can help get a conflict under control before things get way out of control and the great thing is that they give students suggestions of how to adapt their style of dealing with conflicts.
The truth is, is that the students that need the support feel more safe and willing to get it from RAP workers. Students learn how to deal with conflict by learning strategies to adapt their own style of conflict resolution.
By: MALAIKA CHAUDHARY
At this session, they were introducing the position of a RAP worker. This position currently exists at Mount Royal, Tommy Douglas, Bedford Road and Walter Murray with Saskatoon Public Schools. However, the program is accessible to 8000 students across the province. The program supports students in an advocacy role meant to help students feel safer mentally, emotionally and physically. RAP workers often have connections to the community that other professionals at the school level do not.
In my experience, it is critically important to have a RAP worker in your school, as it is comforting to know we have that kind of support when needed. Our school’s RAP worker engages with students and supports anything from organizing family visits to grief support to connecting with community outlets. Our RAP worker is a point of contact for many students who need someone to talk to or a kind and gentle face when the world seems too complicated.
The schools that do not have RAP workers, are left to lean on teachers who are often already extended. When students feel left to bottle things up, the danger is that it will overflow and come out twice as bad. A RAP worker can be the bridge between students, teachers, and administration and should be accessible to all students.
By: HAYLEE COURCHENE