Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School Creating Peaceful Spaces to Address Youth Trauma


by Ivan Valenzuela, Goodman Ambassador

The Peace Room is a place of sanctuary where we all come together and share our ideas on how to make our community better. We help our school community through restorative justice and the act of rehabilitation through communicating and expressing one’s feelings towards a person or event. With this in mind, we sit down with students to come to a conclusion that is violence free. We don’t only bring reason and tranquility to the problem, but always try to introduce a solution that buries the hatchet; or, at least settles any possible mishaps. We always keep an open mind as there are always two sides to every story and to come with an unbiased intention. Another focus in the group is substance abuse. Serving as Goodman Ambassadors, with the program The Goodman Build Youth, Build Community program, funded by the Lillian and Larry Goodman Foundations, we all believe that with the ability to have a safe, judgment free environment, where we can discuss substance use and prevention. We discuss reasons why people engage in such activities and how to redirect those decision. From past experiences, whether it’s from family or friends, everyone has a story we want to hear. Everything discussed in the Peace Room is strictly confidential. Everyone is aware that with the trust and compassion we all share we are all able to be a bit vulnerable while being respectful at the same time. Personally, the Peace Room has been a great asset in my life. I had a short temper and I never wanted to listen to reason nor did I want to talk about my problems. I would isolate myself and frequently use cannabis. Making better decisions and using the guidance from the Peace Room, the sobering up had to come from me. After sitting down and hearing the stories of how people were under the influence daily and in some cases worse, I realized I wish I could help them not by forcing them, but to talk with them about quitting; and, encouraging them to follow what is right. Being a positive support and being unbiased towards young people’s choices can do wonders. Being a Goodman Ambassador and being a part of the Peace Room, helped me become vulnerable where I am open to anything and appreciate so much more. Learning how to listen, reason and to have someone trust in you, is character building. It creates a feeling of being an important social aspect in your community, which can affect you positively in the future by building your confidence. The Peace Room is community building. It’s a great method in giving someone self-worth. This is what I found in the Peace Room. It makes you think, inspire and wonder, it gives someone the “what if ” factor.

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