The Conflict Managers Program has been running in the Regina Public Schools since 1993. Students are assigned in pairs and work on the playground at recess. They assist to settle minor disputes before they become major ones. They follow a process to help other students solve their own conflicts and when that happens they walk away without any hard feelings and both sides acquire a “Win Win” feeling.
A well run Conflict Managers Program reduces violence, bullying and general conflicts on the playground and teaches students skills that they can carry with them in every day life.
A conference is held each year so the students can discuss their program with students from other schools. They are also given other “Skill Builders” that they can use when they go back to their schools. More importantly, the conference is a reward for all the hard work the students do. They a provided with a nutritious snack, busing to and from the conference, and a number of prizes.
The Rotary Club of Regina supports the Conflict Managers’ Conference with funding for half the cost of the bus transportation, and for prizes and treats.
The 19th annual Playground Conflict Managers’ Conference was held on Wednesday, January 27th at Balfour Collegiate with the theme of using conflict manager skills in our personal lives and online and giving back to the community. The conference brought together almost 170 Grades 5 and 6 students from various Regina Public elementary schools to hone their skills and to celebrate the important work they do on our playgrounds.
Brittney Leitner, SRC President at Balfour Collegiate, was the emcee for the conference and introduced Deputy Director Darren Boldt who brought greetings from Regina Public Schools and encouraged students to be great leaders in their schools.
All of the conflict managers then gathered in the gymnasium to participate in some fun ice-breaking games and activities to help build leadership skills. It was also a chance to make some new friends.
After a quick snack, the students gathered to hear guest speaker Katia Hildebrandt from the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina. She spoke about social media, what it means to be an upstander instead of a bystander, what information we want to be public versus private, face-to-face versus online conflict, and the importance of being a good citizen, standing up for victims, using social media for good, and initiating positive change for the benefit of the community.
The Playground Conflict Managers’ program teaches students how to ask open-ended questions and be active listeners when helping resolve conflicts, and it teaches students how to work out personal conflicts using “I messages”. It takes about three hours to fully train students to be conflict managers and, depending on the number of students signed up, they work one recess a week to help with all the little problems that pop up on the primary playground.
The conference committee would like to send a special thank you to The Rotary Club of Regina who have been the main supporters, both financially and physically, for helping keep this conference and program a success. Thank you also to all of the staff and high school helpers and, of course, the student participants.
The organizers will soon be planning next year’s 20th anniversary conference, which promises to be the biggest and best ever!