|A banner from a previous Peace Camp hangs in the
center's Wittenberg campus home.
In addition, the 10th annual Teen Mediation Training session will prepare 35 seventh-to 11th-grade students to apply skills as mediators and teen aides in the Peace Camp classrooms. The SPC, Springfield Mediation Service, Clark County Common Pleas Court Mediation Service and Prevention Academy will sponsor the free training June 7-8 on Wittenberg’s campus.
“We would not exist without Wittenberg,” SPC Director Nanci Keller said. “Student volunteers and donations of time and funds from faculty and staff allow us to work on a $50,000 annual budget, and the in-kind support of the university fills a requirement on some grants that we applied for over the years, so Wittenberg’s gift has also helped us access other funding.”
Keller added that all programs provided by the center, which began as a summer camp in 1986, are free to the schools and children. The program quickly grew to include classroom instruction in a variety of conflict resolution subjects.
Shirley Wuchter, Wittenberg class of 1968 and a former SPC director, taught a two-year Day Care Project in the late 1980s, which consisted of a series of eight model lessons using the curriculum chosen for teaching peace education to that age group. In 1990, an additional curriculum was introduced into kindergarten and first-grade classes in select public schools as a pilot project.
“Between 1986 and 1997, we had touched 11,500 lives, considering the rippling effect,” Wuchter said. “The fact that we were intentional – and that the organization persevered – is probably the most significant point.”
Today SPC also sponsors such programs as the Bully-Free School Curriculum, the Peace Works Curriculum and Leadership Club Safe Haven. Recently, SPC held Alternatives to Violence classes at Springfield’s Perrin Woods and Lagonda elementary schools and at 13 Head Start sites in Dayton.
But it all comes back to the Wittenberg connection and the place SPC still calls home.
“We have made space and plant resources available to SPC at no cost,” Vice President of University Business and Finance Darrell Kitchen said. “The recently remodeled space (224 W. College Ave.) was completed with the center in mind and included its input.”
From its central location in the city of Springfield, SPC branches out with the help of members of the Wittenberg community.
“The ‘I Care Rules’ are posted in virtually every school in Springfield,” Assistant Director of SPC Ruth Romaker said. “Approximately 40 Wittenberg students perform their community service with us each year, and many of them continue to come after they complete their service requirement.”
In his fourth year on the Board of Trustees/Directors of the SPC, Assistant Professor of Art and Ceramicist Scott Dooley assisted at the last three Peace Camps. He taught an art unit during which the children each made peace medallions, and he donated pottery works for the annual Silent Auction.
“SPC serves a great need in Springfield and does so with understanding and a child- centered focus,” Dooley said. “Another reason I stay involved with the SPC is that it puts me in contact with many other people in Springfield (city school teachers, community and peace activists in Springfield, etc.). This has been a great way to get out of the ‘Wittenberg Bubble’ and get to know more people in Springfield.”
Each year a banner is constructed around the theme of the year’s camp, and each participant’s name is written in the banner. Several of these hang on the walls at the center, sometimes creating a link for parents and children who have enjoyed similar camp experiences.
“The Springfield Peace Center is the only peace center between Bluffton and Wilmington, Ohio,” Romaker said. “We’re here and available for the greater community as well as Wittenberg students, professors, staff and alumni. Visitors are always welcome.”
- Phyllis Eberts
• Springfield Peace Center Web site
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