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Restorative schools is a first benefit of merger

CCP, CRS join to offer proactive, responsive and restorative conflict services under one roof

February 16, 2017 was a bitter, cold and blustery day, but that didn’t deter a stalwart band of peace-builders from venturing onto Lancaster’s Penn Square to “flash” the new name and merger of Lancaster County’s two long-serving organizations addressing conflict and crime to form a one-stop-shop for face-to-face dialogue programs: Advoz.

Pronounced “ad-vōss,” the word comes from the Latin for ‘voice,’ inherently meaning, ‘adding voice to dialogue.’ Its expanded mission, to transform conflict and build community with face-to-face dialogue programs, was discerned by consensus by the boards of both founding organizations.

Lancaster has a rich tradition of leadership in building peace. The Lancaster Mediation Center (later CRS) was founded in 1980 early in the US mediation movement. Similarly in 1994, LAVORP (later CCP) was formed at an early stage in the restorative justice movement. By 2017, both organizations worked in ever more proactive ways with people in conflict and have come of age.

The merger now allows Advoz to take a new proactively with local schools. With restorative practices technique of inclusive dialogue and classroom circle process, Advoz is part of a movement gaining steam nationwide to reverse the harmful trends of zero-tolerance discipline that exclude youth from their peers and increase their chances of lifelong criminal involvement. In 2016, 30% of juvenile justice cases referred to restorative justice from around Lancaster County happened at schools. Already underway at the School District of Lancaster, Advoz’s Restorative Schools project will equip more schools to address harm in youth violations “upstream” and prevent needless justice system involvement.

Lancaster County has been unique in Pennsylvania having two active services for mediation and restorative justice. While such services are legislated in other states because of their effectiveness and efficiency, our programs have thrived because of cooperative relationships with our county courts and generous community contributions.

Your support has made possible the joining of two leading programs in an even more effective and innovative force, bringing together more than 60 highly trained volunteers with a streamlined administration and board of directors. Your involvement—donations, event participation, facilitating, volunteering, praying, spreading the word—your voice—helps to realize the potential of our community to truly transform conflict into an opportunity for growth.

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