Friday was my last day at the YMCA. To celebrate, I worked with a few other people to pull together a workshop to introduce the topic of restorative justice to the Youth Development Program boys. 

The Canadian High Commission and Cuso sponsored the activity, providing prizes and helping us out with pizza lunch for 40, while Inga Laurent, a Fulbright Scholar from Gonzaga University studying restorative justice in Jamaica, led the students in a mock trial about a boy who is accused by a neighbour of breaking a window.

As with the Robotics workshop, the boys rose to the occasion. They were transfixed as Inga walked them through the facts of the case and taught them the essentials of legal process. They spoke up, participated, laughed and listened (most of the time!). Best of all, they walked away with an interest in justice that will allow for future discussions about alternative ways of dealing with problems. In a community that leans heavily on retribution for even the slightest misdemeanour, restorative justice principles could be transformative.

I have lots of photos (and a short video) to remind me of what a great workshop it was, but I think the little examples of how much the boys enjoyed the day – sticking around after the session was over, changing their WhatsApp picture to be one from the day, asking when they can do it again – are the greatest proof of a successful event, and an inspiring finish to a year well-spent.

I will miss these boys with all my heart.

Preparing signs for our breakout rooms
So proud of his work!
Sharing is caring – you win a prize, I eat the cheezies
The defence prepares for trial
A job well done, based on the emoji count
Hot and sweaty but oh so happy with how things went!

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