At YOUCAN Youth Services, circles are used with young people as an alternative communication method that allows them to deal with extremely painful and difficult issues, manage their own healing process, make agreements that promote safety, celebrate successes, make decisions, check in and check out daily and resolve conflicts.
This approach involves participants sitting in a circle, preparing themselves to speak honestly, listen to each other respectfully and take turns speaking. A “talking piece” is used in our circles, which means that you are only allowed to talk if you are holding the “talking piece”.
These circles promote high quality discussions with participants taking responsibility for what they say. Circles are effective in identifying real issues and seeking appropriate solutions to conflict situations. Derived from Aboriginal and Native traditions, circles bring people together in a way that creates trust, respect, intimacy, good will, belonging, generosity, mutuality and equality. The process is never about changing others, but rather is an invitation to change oneself and one’s relationship with the community.
Peacemaking circles are strongly integrated into all of our progams at YOUCAN Youth Services and we have seen the greatest successes with our youth since we began utilizing this effective tool.