BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Buffalo Peacemakers and other community organizations are preparing to assist teachers and staff with students at McKinley High School.
"Children relate to people who look like them. It's that simple," Pastor James Giles, the president and CEO of Back to Basics Outreach Ministries and coordinator for Buffalo Peacemakers, said, "The community cares. They're not just leaving us up to institutions. They're not just leaving us up to these abstract agencies. No. The community cares."
The Peacemakers will eventually be in six Buffalo schools, but for now they will focus on McKinley once it returns to in person instruction.
"We're going to come along side them to identify those individuals that begin to create some problems because of issues, trauma, they just have a lot of stuff going on personally, and they bring that to the classroom," Pastor Giles said.
"So we'll be in the halls, we'll be connected talking to students at lunches, study halls, before and after school, and maybe during school. If something happens and they need someone to talk to, as a crisis mentor, I'll be there and we can go and talk one on one to resolve any issues before it escalates to where it ends up in violence," Karlanda Meadors, an incoming school crisis mentor, said.
School crisis mentors are preparing for the school to reopen with training in restorative justice, trauma care and the rules of engagement.
"There's a way to approach a child. There's a way to approach a group of children. There's a way to deal with conflict with two people, and there's a way to begin to deescalate conflict. There's a way to even break up fights," Giles said.
The Peacemakers said their presence in schools will help lower rates of violence among youth.
"When they see that we're there working with the teachers and faculty, and we're there as a support to them, this is the solution to the problem," Meadors said.