As young people throughout the county get ready for a new school year, a group of teens from Beacon High School spent the summer preparing to engage in a whole new way. Through a partnership between the Mediation Center of Dutchess County’s Restorative Justice Initiative and Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Green Teen program, 15 students participated extensively in Circle practice, a method for building community, strengthening communication, and addressing conflict. With funding from the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley, the partnership created an instructional video so other youth-serving organizations could learn about Circles. Filmed by Lex Catania, the resulting mini-documentary, “The Teens are Alright,” outlines the process and explores the experiences of 7 youth participants.
“Empowering youth is a key area of focus for our Restorative Justice Initiative,” said Claudia Abbott-Barish, Director of Restorative Justice Programs at the Mediation Center of Dutchess County. “Rooted in Indigenous philosophy, Circle practice can be a transformational approach to community building and conflict resolution. We’ve seen the positive effects of this work for years and wanted to share that story.”
The 13-minute documentary introduces viewers to the practice, with a focus on the experience of youth participants. Through the process, the teens describe how Circle helps them connect with themselves and each other. Through their distinct voices, it becomes clear that with these supports the teens are, indeed, alright.
“We’re so grateful to the youth, Green Teen staff, and filmmaker for bringing this story together,” Abbott-Barish continued. “As with all of our initiatives, we are proud that this documentary was created by the community – and will become a resource within the community. We’re especially grateful to the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley whose funding made this possible, and to the Dutchess County Agency Partner Grant program which supports our youth programs.”