East View Elementary School has installed a new “Peace Bridge” to literally guide students through the steps of positive, peaceful conflict resolution.
The idea was proposed by assistant principal Brandon Brooks. Guidance counselor LeVon Cozart and her husband Brad built the bridge, and retired EVES custodian Glenn Pierce painted the bridge and its messages.
The bridge is located on the school playground. When students encounter any kind of situation involving conflict, they step onto the bridge and follow the prompts painted on the planks.
The Peace Bridge begins with encouraging students to share an “I want” statement, articulating their desired outcome. Next comes “I feel,” when students identify and acknowledge their feelings and emotions. The next step, “I hear you telling me …” allows students the opportunity to repeat their peer’s message to ensure they understand one another. “Maybe we should try …” encourages kids to offer suggestions and potential resolutions to the issue at hand. The last step, “Let’s choose and shake hands,” affirms the decision reached by both students, with a respectful conclusion and resolution to the problem.
The Peace Bridge was introduced to students during a schoolwide assembly on Sept. 7. Brooks and Cozart demonstrated how the bridge works, role-playing a pretend conflict in which they “argued” over who had a ball first.
“In the future, we would like to train EVES student leaders as Peace Bridge Ambassadors who will assist their peers in using the bridge to solve problems,” Cozart said.