Straight Talk - Social Issues Impacting Youth

A Peacemaking Project by Ajay J.

What is the injustice we are solving?

We would like to provide a platform for panelists to discuss issues impacting youth. Some of the topics that would be discussed would be social injustice relating to race and youth violence. While talking about the issues we also want to come up with suggestions and ideas that the youth can do to help make things better for our communities. This year has been one that has had the most violence for our state and the most teens killed as a result of youth/gun violence.

Our Compassionate Solution:

To solve this injustice of racism, poverty and youth violence
we will address it by talking about it and brainstorming solutions and ideas that we as youth can do personally to start making changes in our community
by participating in rallies, walks and voice our opinions in public places so we can be heard.

Our Project Plan:


  • Host a panel discussion for youth; Come up with 3-5 solutions we as youth can do to start change in our community

We will increase my / our compassion by...

Making/Taking pledges that state that we will be "Change Agents" We will create a hashtag so we can make our effort a trending topic

How will you show courage?

We will document our efforts by taking pictures and using our created hashtag

How will you collaborate with others?

We will work with local schools like the Jobs for America's Graduate program; We will talk with other promoters and change agents in our community to get a well rounded panel of speakers to talk about the issues.

How will you know you are moving in the right direction? (What are specific ways you can measure your impact?)

We will have adult mentors/supervisors to assist us and help guide our efforts. We will also know if we are doing a good job based on the interest of the collaborators and the youth wanting to attend.

Key Steps

  • 1. Identify place and location of event; 2. Identify collaborators; 3. Identify speakers; 4. Make a list of supplies needed; 5. Discuss how we market the event; 6. Market the event; 7. Brainstorm incentive for youth attending and for panelists.


How did the project deepen your team's understanding of the injustice?

We learned that some people don't think we are not kind enough in our world and what is going on is actually "okay." When we shared our stories we realized that this is a bigger issue than we thought.

How did your community change as a result of your project?

Our "community" - so our peers, our sports teams, our family, our friends, our community - really supported our idea. They acknowledge the smile it brought to their face and we told them that's what we wanted and we needed them to help us spread peace and smiles! They made a conscious effort to help post our flyers in their schools, businesses, churches etc.

How many people were impacted by your project?


Explain how you came up with the number of people impacted by the project?

We actually know we reached more but we are unable to really prove it. We had large groups sign our pledge, we had our posters plastered in a number of businesses, homes, schools, churches etc. We know people saw our message but our project didn't really allow us to be able to count all the people that we touched. We felt that 200 was a good number because it was realistic and our adult supervisor said it wouldn't be an inflated number to report.

How did your team learn more about the people affected by the injustice?

Most of what we learned was from what was going on on tv and our shared experiences. We learned that people don't always understand what "fair" is and that peace is a necessity in our world. We learned which for some was not really a new fact but that those that are impacted by the injustice tend to be labeled, judged and misunderstood a lot because people don't take the time to listen and care.

What did your team learn?

We learned how to accommodate, work together, and adapt. We also learned that not everyone shares our belief that our world isn't peaceful and kindness enough. We learned that when folks brushed us off not to take it personally!

What challenges did your team overcome?

Schedules! Everyone was really busy with school and extracurriculars. We found other ways to get our message out when we were told "no." We overcame team members dropping the ball on assignments.

How have you involved others in designing, carrying out, or expanding this project?

The team had help designing our shirt, our posters, asking people to post the flyers and posters. We asked teachers to have their classes participate in our campaign. Our success was because we had so much help because we realized that it was much harder than we thought. A lot of places won't just let you post something because it's a good message.

What advice would you give to someone starting a peacemaking project?

Be ready to hear the word "no" a lot but don't let it discourage you.


Adrian B.
15 June 2018 21:37

Hi Ajay,

Congratulations on finishing your peacemaking project! I’m on the Peace First team and wanted to say thank you for your amazing work and for taking time to share about your work.

Below you will find some feedback based on your Reflection, which we hope will help you to celebrate your incredible accomplishment and reflect on how to grow and develop your project in the future:


I deeply admire this project. You have taken on a huge array of issues--and many people who have resistance to your messages of peace and acceptance of all--and not taken no for an answer. Your persistence and positivity in the face of obstacles is powerful and important.

I'm also excited about the process you have used for your project. Starting with a discussion to share and connect ideas about injustices people notice in the world around them is a powerful way to think, feel, and plan together where you want to focus. I love that you're pairing discussion with action--learning and acting put together are an effective combination!

Things to consider:

I'd love to know more about how the event itself went. Did it happen yet? Do you have pictures, quotes, or video? What do you think went well, and what did you learn from it?

I'd also love to know what issues your group decided to focus on with the event, and how you're working with others in your community to take action on this array of injustices. How can you center those who are directly affected when you work to take direct action?

We hope you will stay in touch and keep us up to date as you continue your work to create change!


Kelsey T.
12 January 2018 11:35

Congratulations! Your project has been selected to receive a Peace First Challenge mini-grant We will be in touch soon with details about this payment.

The mini-grant process is also a space for you to get expert feedback on your peacemaking project. We hope you will use this feedback to further strengthen your project. Please see the feedback on your mini-grant below.

This is a great project addressing a really important range of interconnected issues. You've done an incredible job of coming up with a concrete, step-by-step plan. I think it is really great that you are thinking so deeply about how to involve young people in creating change around racism, poverty, and youth violence -- at Peace First we believe strongly in the power of young people to create change right now, and it is great that in addition to doing that yourself you want to bring other young people into the conversation to take action together! I also really like your idea about action pledges around being "change agents" and creating a hastag and photos to help it become a "trending" conversation to spread the word and enhance awareness and get more folks involved and I that will be a great way to enhance your reach and impact. I also am excited to hear about your wonderful ideas for local collaboration -- I think connecting with local schools and change agents in the community will be key and will help you create an incredible project together!

Opportunities to further strengthen your project:
I can tell that you've taken some time to understand this injustice, but I'm curious to hear what specific root cause you are hoping to address through your project? There are some tools in the Compassionate Solution part of the dashboard that might be helpful here -- they may be able to help you edit your compassionate insight so that people new to your project can better understand what root cause you are addressing (for example, is it a lack of youth involvement or a lack of awareness/opportunities for dialogue or are you addressing a different systemic cause through your event? Or something else entirely?) Once you can articulate the specific root cause you are addressing, you might be able to find some additional ways to measure your progress and success around changing that one root cause, which can be easier to measure than the initial impact on the broader injustices.

Congratulations and best of luck with your project!

Fish S. Peace First Staff
10 January 2018 17:38

Hi Ajay -- really love your detailed plan. What's especially powerful is the idea that this discussion will lead to real action -- it sounds like you've done a lot of deep thinking about that!

What are your next steps? Do you have a team together to help you organize this? Do you have speakers lined up? What pieces have been challenging so far? Maybe we can help you with those.  

Fish S. Peace First Staff
10 January 2018 17:38

Hi Ajay -- really love your detailed plan. What's especially powerful is the idea that this discussion will lead to real action -- it sounds like you've done a lot of deep thinking about that!

What are your next steps? Do you have a team together to help you organize this? Do you have speakers lined up? What pieces have been challenging so far? Maybe we can help you with those.  

RaulPF C.
2 January 2018 11:20

Thanks for sharing all these details about your project, Ajay! It's great to see you taking a stand for issues impacting youth. Can you tell us a bit more about the team you are working with?