Life Anew Restorative Justice is an organization that is bringing communities together to build restorative ecosystems. Their work is having an impact in Texas and beyond.
Review from Guidestar
Life Anew Restorative Justice is a growing non-profit based in Austin, TX that promotes respectful communication and community healing through restorative justice centers in schools and introducing restorative practices to the Austin community and beyond. Their truth and Reconciliation circles in the community bring Austin residents together with members of the Police Department to listen to each other's stories about the topics of race and policing, yet circles remain grounded in a foundation of love, honesty, and respect. As a volunteer with Life Anew since August of 2016, I have witnessed the life-changing impact of restorative practices, of actually feeling heard. Assumptions are faced, and frequently unpacked and discarded of - growth is evident in those who return to the circles for a second, third, or fourth experience. New community friendships are forged, and bridges built.
Kim and Sherwynn Patton, the founders of Life Anew, actively train young people, teachers, and school administrators about restorative practices, giving them the tools they need to have healthier, happier relationships with peers, teachers, and family members. The Patton's believe that young people need to become leaders in their own communities and role models to younger children and provide the tools they need to blossom in these roles. Having volunteered in one of their restorative centers at Akins High School, I have seen the direct impact their restorative center has on interrupting the school-to-prison pipeline. Some students utilize the restorative center as a safe space to cool off, process, and reboot as an alternative to sitting in in-school-suspension. Teachers utilize the restorative center by requesting that the restorative center coordinators facilitate circles on topics important to classroom management. Students are empowered to utilize the center as well to proactively address any issues they may be having with a teacher, parent, or peer(s), releasing the tension by airing whatever is negatively impacting their ability to focus and learn. Life Anew's restorative centers provide schools with a platform for voicing concerns and being heard. The Patton's program is preventative and deters potential academic disengagement or potential altercations from issues that are left unaddressed. In morning FIT circles, students from all groups sit side-by-side, respectfully listening to their peers speak their truth and share their stories. Life Anew Restorative Justice is training schools throughout Texas and is at the forefront of a movement that is gaining momentum across the country.
I feel so lucky to have been trained by them and to be able to be a part of the change I wish to see in the world through my involvement with Life Anew and encourage others to volunteer with Life Anew as well, and encourage anyone who is interested to fill out a volunteer interest form on their website: http://www.elifeanew.com/contact