This past week, the Brownsville Youth Court began blazing the path for restorative justice practices in Brownsville! The Youth Court, comprised of 11 young people between the ages of 14 and 18, conducted community circles at Van Dyke Community Center and Langston Hughes Community Center. The Youth Court facilitated these circles with middle school youth, during after-school programming at each community center.
The Youth Court members introduced the concept of circle practice to their younger participants, explaining that this is a space where one person speaks at a time, honestly and openly, while everyone else listens respectfully. Each person brings their own unique sense of self and experiences to the circle, contributing in their own way to the group’s shared truth. They explained how the talking piece goes around the circle, the guidelines for the conversation, and introduced their own individual opening and closing ceremonies to open and close the space. As the discussions unfolded, participants shared their hopes, dreams and fears for their own individual futures and the future of Brownsville.
Youth Court members and youth at Langston Hughes participate in a circle activity.
The extensive Restorative Practice training that the Youth Court members completed was evident based on their abilities to keep the attention of the participants and to encourage them to speak freely, setting the example by respecting each other and speaking freely themselves. These discussions set the bar high for restorative practices in Brownsville and demonstrated that simple communication and conversation with youth in our community can lead to powerful youth-led community change in Brownsville!
Youth Court members and participants closing a circle at Langston Hughes!