Let’s Talk empowers youth to resolve conflicts peacefully and constructively, creating a culture of respect and conclusion. We collaborate with students, teachers, and administrators in the Des Moines Public School system to implement restorative justice practices to decrease the disproportionate number of students of color suspended and referred to the juvenile justice system — immediately disrupting the school to prison pipeline.
Working through the interfaith organization AMOS, A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy, and its Juvenile Justice team, the Let’s Talk team piloted restorative justice practices in six Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) middle schools to make an impact – and it worked. In five of the six programs, reductions in out of school suspensions were seen for kids of color (2014-2015 school year). This year, Let’s Talk will work with every public middle school in Des Moines (2022-23 school year).
Our community volunteers empower students through mediations and talking circles to improve students’ positive communication and problem-solving skills, keeping them on the road to success in school and life.
We are looking for additional community volunteers to join our program this fall. If you are interested, we are offering a Circle Training class on July 29, and a Mediation Training on August 1 and 2. These classes will run from approximately 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and will cover the processes Let’s Talk has developed to help and advocate for middle school youth in the Des Moines area.
This is not an ‘ordinary’ volunteer opportunity – these volunteer positions are currently paid hourly, and volunteers are placed on teams to divide the weekly work on a flexible schedule. Volunteers can expect to work 2-3 days per week, 3-6 hours per day, which allows them to reach the kids during school hours as needed.
Please share this information with anyone you know who might be interested. All adult age groups and demographics are welcome. Contact LetsTalk@ucdsm.org for the electronic application, as well as for training location details.