PEACE in Action
Help Increase the Peace (HIPP) Program
Building a Culture of Peace in Schools and Communities
Help Increase the Peace (HIPP) Program
The Help Increase the Peace Program (HIPP) is a 15-year-old project of the American Friends Service Committee that uses an experiential training model to teach non-violence to youth. The HIP Program is based on the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) that has brought Quakers into American prisons to teach non-violence. Fifteen years ago in Syracuse, New York the participants in an AVP workshop said "Let's reach youth before they are incarcerated and help them find other ways of solving their problems." From this, HIPP was born.
Today, HIPP is reaching youth in communities around the U.S. and even outside. Last year I co- facilitated HIPP institutes to train facilitators in Japan and Hong Kong, as well as in the U.S. We have an active project in Ontario, Canada. Some mixture of HIPP and AVP is being done in communities in Australia and East Africa—Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi.
HIPP takes many forms and reaches different goals. The basic elements of building community and teaching communication skills for resolving conflict non-violently are always there. Underneath are the elements of affirmation for self-esteem, accepting differences of race, class, and gender, and developing leadership. In most workshops, a team of adults and youths provide the facilitation for a group of youths and/or adults. This aspect of leadership development and empowerment of youth is a crucial element of the project.
Some examples of how HIPP is being used follow:
We have heard examples of schools that have been transformed through using HIPP, for example in Toronto, Canada and in Hartford, Connecticut. Sustaining this transformation is difficult. Too often, school personnel change, students grow up and leave, and the environment returns to its previous state.
Nonetheless, the lives of many individuals have been changed. These young people are now out in the world handling problems better, feeling affirmed in their belief that everyone of whatever race, class or sexual orientation has something of value to offer them, and offering their leadership in building community. A youth, who was a shy wallflower when he began HIPP, became class president. A young woman, who wasn't sure she could go to college, got a large scholarship based on her participation and leadership in HIPP. Others have learned other leadership skills and have succeeded in ways they might otherwise not have done.
It is always hard to say what conflicts we have averted with our programs and workshops. When conflict breaks out, it is evident; but how do we know about the conflict that might have been brewing, but which has been averted by the timely intervention of someone with skill and confidence? Participants have told us about going home and intervening in squabbles between their siblings and even between their parents. Others have intervened in potential conflicts in their communities.
Nowhere is conflict absent. It is not the lack of conflict which measures peace, but the ability to resolve conflict non-violently. The principles of HIPP allow us to make better choices each day. Those principles are:
With these principles in mind, young people who have experienced HIPP (and the adults who work with them) have been able to have calmer, more successful lives resolving conflicts constructively, rather than destructively, and standing together with one another to represent the importance of community while still honoring diversity.
HIPP manuals are available for purchase from American Friends Service Committee, PO Box 73008, Washington, DC 20056 for $30 plus $6 shipping and handling. To become a HIPP facilitator, it is necessary to take either the three weekend workshops (Basic, Advanced, and Training for Facilitators) or the five-day summer Institute. For more information; contact firstname.lastname@example.org or check the website: www.afsc.org/hipp