Date Published: 02/19/2021
Afam Ayika, an EPIC organizer who was leading the work in the restorative justice community (as part of the initial Zero Youth Detention grant) was installed as the first Restorative Justice Coordinator in state history; at Rainier Beach high school in 2017. Afam worked alongside WA-BLOC and others at RBHS and the surrounding community, passing his knowledge of restorative practices/justice along. Community based RJ is currently held by WA-BLOC at RBHS and by various community organizing groups like RBAC throughout the Southeast Seattle community. Beginning in late 2020, Afam joined the WA-BLOC Restorative Justice Team. In the video below, Afam talks about how his role in implementing Restorative Justice at RBHS has changed over the years. We are so happy to have Afam as a member of the WA-BLOC Team and are thrilled to be continuing this work alongside him.
Black Healing Circles
James Williams has been a Restorative Justice Coordinator with WA-BLOC for the past three years supporting the RJ work at Rainier Beach High School. In July of 2020, the RJ Team started a Black Healing Circle series to provide a safe space for Black folx in the community to grieve and build community with one another. James discusses the need that the Black Healing Circles were born out of and the nature of their impact on participants.
Restorative Justice at Emerson Elementary
Tyra Griffith has been leading the Restorative Justice work at Emerson Elementary this school year, working closely with admin and staff to build a culture using school-wide Restorative Practice to foster relationships and create community in order to address conflict restoratively. Tyra and Erin Rasmussen, Principal at Emerson, reflect on the shifts they've witnessed in school and staff culture and how they've seen Restorative Justice work influence other spaces in the school for the better.
Restorative Justice at Rainier Beach High School
The Restorative Justice work at Rainier Beach High School includes holding mentorship and therapeutic spaces, and training both staff and students as Circle Keepers to address conflict and build community in their classrooms. Below, James talks about the inception of the mentorship program DJM (Don't Judge Me), a space held for young people who identify as male at Beach, and why programs like it must continue. Chelsea Gallegos, RBHS Social Worker and Restorative Justice liaison, discusses Therapeutic Thursdays and training student Circle Keepers to lead circle in their advisory classes. Grace Wedgewood, IB Spanish teacher at Beach, shares how circle has helped to build stronger community in the classroom where language expression is sometimes limited.
Shout out RJ team for getting student circle keepers trained at RBHS, they led their circles in advisory on January 11th and here is the response from one of the teachers:
"Thank you to all of you for stepping up to be leaders with this! Ruby was our circle keeper and she absolutely crushed it. 100x better than when I do them, it really truly got my class listening and everyone shared, some stuff very personal and very powerful all around. It blew me and Mr. Otis’ mind how well and smooth that went. Sending them off with the banger from Kendrick at the end was nice, they def turned up for that! Awesome work, so so impressive!"