live Finalist / 2019
Nonviolence Ambassador Certification Program
Our program will educate participants (both LAPD officers and community members) in the theory and practice of Gandhian nonviolence using meditation techniques. Upon certification, the participants will be empowered to work together and develop innovative solutions to their community problems.
What does your organization do?
We foster the practice of human values including a sense of connectedness, respect for all people and nature, an attitude of non-violence, and an ethic of social service.
Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.
- National Police Foundation
Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.
During April 2018, the LAPD hosted two workshops on nonviolence that we delivered to a group of LAPD officers, residents from the local South LA community and case workers from the Gang Reduction GRYD program at the LA Mayor’s Office. While the coming together of police officers and members of the community is not new, it was obvious that the infusion of the “self-discovery through meditation” component was something new, and the genuine emotions that it created took the police - community relationship to a new and deeper level. The feedback received especially on health improvements from several participants after a few weeks of the training inspired us to continue our work with the LAPD.
Inspired by the workshop, one of the participants travelled with us to India last year on a 7 day training expedition to deepen his understanding and application of nonviolence and meditation. He was a former gang member and one of California’s youngest juveniles who spent 32 years in prison. He shared with us that his childhood was full of trauma from living in South LA neighborhoods infested with gang violence. He had dropped out of school and had joined a gang, becoming even more violent as now he wanted to inflict pain on others. After completing our nonviolence and meditation training, he shared that it was important to heal childhood trauma of youth and families, to create sustainable transformation in society. Most importantly, after coming back from India, he has already organized a workshop on nonviolence and meditation for his community, family and friends. We are inspired by his dedication and he has helped us shape the curriculum of our Nonviolence Ambassador Certification program.
Which of the live metrics will your submission impact?
- Prevalence of adverse childhood experiences
- Rates of mental illness
- Resilient communities
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- South LA
How will your project make LA the best place to live?
The Nonviolence Ambassador certification program is a 2 month boot camp where participants will learn the philosophy of Gandhian nonviolence and build their capacity to develop inner resilience, resolve conflicts, develop interpersonal skills and actively promote peace and nonviolence through action. The participants will be empowered to become the agents of social change and upon completion, they will be able to teach the tools and wisdom of nonviolence to their communities and organizations (thereby having a ripple effect). To implement the program, we are partnering with the Harvard Park Community Service Partnership (CSP) team at LAPD South Bureau 77th Division. Each of the 15 officers in the team, will invite one member each from the local community (including former gang members, educators, victims of violence, peace activists and at risk youth) to build positive peace in the neighborhood.
The first workshop (30 participants) will be held during May-June. The graduates of the program will organize the second workshop (during June-July) for another group of 30 participants. Each workshop will be conducted over 8 weeks, where participants will meet once a week (for 2 hours each) to develop leadership capacity for improving self-awareness, trust and teamwork, building authentic relationships, visioning and modeling change. Graduates will be certified through a “train the trainer’ module in the last week so that they can subsequently promote the tools and wisdom of nonviolence in their communities and neighborhoods benefiting the local communities including children, youth, and families. These sessions conducted by graduates will focus on providing a regimen of proven breath and meditation exercises that are easy to learn and practice to reduce stress, overcome trauma, increase energy, improve mental health and wellbeing.
At the end of three months, 60 participants will be certified as nonviolence ambassadors in South LA. As a part of the certification they will need to organize nonviolence training to at least 50 people each. These training sessions will be scheduled across South LA at churches, schools, juvenile homes, prisons and police departments. So overall we expect to reach out to over 3000 people through our collective effort.
We believe that our holistic solution will improve mental health & wellness, reduce violence, enhance community-police relations and improve the overall quality of life in South LA.
In what stage of innovation is this project?
Pilot project (testing a new idea on a small scale to prove feasibility)
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
Our program is based on the proven health benefits of the SKY meditation technique that have been published in several peer reviewed journals. References are available on: www.skymeditation.org
Our program will positively impact participants on multiple levels including physical/health, organizational, psychological and community.
In partnership with the National Police Foundation, we will measure the outcomes of our program (on all four levels above) through pre and post session surveys to assess improvements in resilience, mental health & wellbeing, and police community relations.
The metrics to be measured will be designed through participatory evaluation (with input from participants) however, they could include potential reduction of blood pressure, anxiety, tension, improved sleep and immune function, improvement in problem solving and decision making, de-escalation, increase in social connectedness and improved relationship building.