Julia Balsamo and Holly Goldsmith-Jones used what they learned studying in the Alternative Dispute Resolution program to teach more than 20 girls how to resolve conflict constructively.

For two hours on July 11 Balsamo and Goldsmith-Jones talked to girls aged 7 to 13 at the Jean Augustine Centre for Young Women’s Empowerment about conflict management.

“The opportunity arose through a project outlined through one of our courses – Community Mediation – taught in the first semester of the program,” Balsamo explains. “The project entails groups actively seeking organizations in the community, building a connection with them and exposing them to the services of the Humber Dispute Resolution Clinic.”

Humber’s Dispute Resolution Clinic works with Humber students and members of the South Etobicoke community to attempt to resolve conflicts through facilitated talks. The student-staffed clinic is a collaboration between the Alternative Dispute Resolution program and St. Stephen’s Community House.

The girls were split into two groups based on age (7 to 9 and 10 to 13). Balsamo worked with the older group.

“Holly and I chose topics to focus on with our groups based on their age and ability to understand conflict concepts. Holly's group topic for the day was sharing and how it is important to the prevention of conflict escalation.

“My group topic for the day was respect and how respect is important in preventing conflict escalation, but also in managing and diffusing conflict. Prior to diving into the workshop activities, basic introductions to conflict and conflict resolution were discussed.”

Later in the session, the girls had the chance to discuss questions like "what does respect mean to you?" Balsamo says they came back with:

"I think respect is listening and paying attention, even if you don't like it."

"Respect is treating everyone the same even if they are different."