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St. Louis intern on the value of peer mediation

Aja McCoy, St. Louis peace intern, summer 2014
Aja McCoy graduated from Northwest Academy of Law in May 2014 and is the Peace Education Intern in AFSC’s St. Louis Office this summer. Photo: AFSC

"My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." - John F. Kennedy

I was born and raised in the city of St. Louis, a city that’s often ranked close to number one as the nation’s most violent and dangerous city. I have lost many friends who were innocent bystanders and simply at the wrong place at the wrong time.

It’s sad that you can’t walk outside and fully enjoy yourself without worrying about your safety. What’s even sadder is being unsafe in your own school. At the high school I attend there are more the two fights a week. Some are neighborhood influenced and others happen because of something stupid.

Either way, fights put a restriction on our education. As a leader of my school and community I knew I had to help solve this. That’s why I wanted to help found the Peer Mediation Program.

Peer Mediation is a program where students help other students resolve conflict. Often a student may not feel comfortable telling the a teacher or administrator, because they're afraid of getting suspended.

Since we began doing peer mediation, I have seen a tremendous change in our school environment. Now students have the courage to resolve their own problems without violence.

In the 2013-14 school year, we did a little over 40 mediations. It is an honor to have teachers and students depend on us to make the school a more peaceful place. I believe that being a Peer Mediator helped grow me in so many ways, socially and mentally. I think that everyone should definitely give it a try.

Aja McCoy graduated from Northwest Academy of Law in May and is the Peace Education Intern in AFSC’s St. Louis Office this summer. She will be attending Xavier University in the fall.

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