The 22nd annual Playground Conflict Managers’ Conference was held on Tuesday, January 29th at Balfour Collegiate with the theme of “Working Together.” The conference brought together approximately 350 Grades 5-7 students from various Regina Public elementary schools to hone their skills and to celebrate the important work they do on our playgrounds.
Rochelle Rugg, Vice-Principal at École Massey School, was the emcee for the conference and introduced Director Greg Enion, who brought greetings on behalf of Regina Public Schools and thanked the students for being great role models for their peers.
Guest speaker Jeff Cappo, Cultural Liaison for Regina Public Schools, spoke about being a leader and peacemaker in his family, school, workplace and community. He stressed the importance of resolving conflicts through respectful dialogue and shared how one of his long-time friends started out with a childhood disagreement. Jeff lives by his mother’s advice that a leader doesn’t walk in front of or behind people; he/she walks alongside people. Jeff also addressed the conference theme of “working together” by showing a motivational video called “The Wisdom of Geese,” which explains how geese have to work together as a unit to survive, thrive and accomplish their goals. In the same respect, humans have to work together, encourage and support one another, and lift up those who are struggling for the benefit of society as a whole.
Students were then shown a video about SaskTel’s I Am Stronger campaign, which is an initiative designed to stop the activities of bullying and cyber-bullying. This was followed by Catrina Hunter, a teacher at Balfour Collegiate, telling students about the Balfour Arts Collective program and showing a video highlighting the areas of visual art, drama and dance.
The conflict managers were then split into groups to either participate in some fun dance instruction by Balfour Arts Collective students or in some great ice-breaking games and activities in the gym, led by Regina Public Schools’ school resource officers. Students enjoyed improving their leadership skills and making some new friends!
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 of the little problems that pop up on the primary playground.
A special thank you to this year’s sponsors (Rotary Club of Regina, SaskTel and Regina Police Service) who provided funding which allowed organizers to pay for bussing, snacks, prizes and T-shirts for all of the participants. Thank you also to Joanne Leitner, Rochelle Rugg, Pam Korczak and Heidi Clayards, staff who run the program and, of course, the student participants.