Rick Phillips and his wife, Jacqueline, were here to speak today about Community Matters, – Safe School Ambassador Program
Rick Phillips and his wife, Jacqueline, were here to speak today about Community Matters, – Safe School Ambassador Program, initially in Sebastopol, but now worldwide.
Rick is the cofounder and Dir. of Community Matters, a 501(c)(3) corporation. He presented an outline of the goals and programs offered to schools throughout the country and around the world by his Foundation.
The underlying philosophy of Community Matters is that strong students today are essential for a secure future. Students who can learn compassion and respect can pass these skills onto others.
A major focus of their programs is to wake up the courage within kids so they can speak up when they see things happening around them that are perceived as hateful, hurtful or harmful to individuals and communities. By learning to recognize and take corrective actions to resolve these issues the world is made a better place.
The program consists of identifying the student leaders fom all groups on a campus and engaging those leaders in a workshop where they learn understanding of compassion and to see the opportunities that exist to protect others and keep their immediate environment safe. When these thought leaders learn the language of nonviolence it can rapidly spread through their unique social groups and from there throughout the entire student community. The program gives them the skills and courage to make such adjustments.
Once students learn that silence in the face of hurtful behavior is the same as the behavior itself, the frequency and severity of the hatefulness declines. Students learn how to take care of each other. Their courage to speak up grows in an environment where it is encouraged by their peers.
This program has been the Healdsburg Unified School District for over four years, starting initially in the high school but now extending as far down as the fourth grade. During this period of time there has been a dramatic reduction in the severe punitive actions taken by the district, including suspensions and expulsions from school. When the program began there were over 35 or 40 of these incidents each year, so far in 2015-2016 school year there have been zero episodes.
Community Matters has programs in over 35 states, three European countries and a program is just getting started in Japan. In that country there is an alarming rate of adolescent suicide due to bullying, teasing, and hurtful interactions. The program is one of only six of its kind in the nation to have a federal rating. The 501(c)(3) Foundation is supported by donations some of which have come from our Club over the past several years.
Information about this program can be found at  www.community-matters.org or www.safeschoolambassadors.org . Email requests for more information can be sent to teams@community-matters.org.