The Ripple Effect Education (TREE), a peace education initiative based out of the Frank and Helen Epp Peace Incubator in the MSCU Centre for Peace Advancement on the campus of Conrad Grebel University College, is the beneficiary of a $150,000 grant from the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation over three years (2016-19).
“The Lyle S. Hallman Foundation believes that peace-literacy and conflict resolution skills are important ingredients in a well-rounded education for all students,” says Laura Manning, the foundation’s executive director. “We are excited to see Conrad Grebel’s wealth of expertise in these areas brought directly into local classrooms.”
In 2014 and ’15, Katie Gingerich, TREE’s director, coordinated Grebel’s Peace Camp, a day camp and workshop program for youth. Last year, the camp facilitated conflict resolution and social justice workshops in 121 classrooms, working with more than 2,400 elementary students in the Waterloo Region public and Catholic school boards, a 100 percent increase from the year before.
Gingerich brings lessons from Peace Camp into her work with TREE, including feedback from educators. In 2015, Peace Camp found that teachers wanted to hold conflict resolution and social justice programming in their classrooms earlier in the year, and more often. To that end, TREE is developing a curriculum-based workshop series with pre- and post-workshop resources for teachers to use throughout the school year to further develop concepts in their classrooms. Additionally, TREE will offer custom programming for Waterloo Region’s students, beginning with the Mennonite Savings and Credit Union Peace in Action scholarship program.
TREE aims to create peace-literate citizens with demonstrable conflict resolution skills and awareness of justice issues, both locally and globally. TREE programming will empower youth to think critically and evoke change in their communities, as they hone soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and empathy.