More young residents of Better Housing Coalition communities will have access to the popular “64 Days of Non-Violence” program as it expands to BHC’s Lincoln Mews community in North Richmond this year.
BHC’s community social work team implemented the behavior-reinforcement program six years ago at its Winchester Greens community. Modeled after the national “A Season of Non-Violence” program, the title refers to the 64 days between the assassinations of Ghandhi and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. More than 100 young Winchester Greens residents have participated in the non-violence initiative since its inception.
“The kids love the program and gain an increased awareness of how their actions affect others,” said Nina Williams, MSW, BHC’s director of children and family services.
At the start of “64 Days,” participants sign a pledge of non-violence and agree to “boycott” such negative behavior as bullying, rudeness and inappropriate language. They are incentivized to exhibit behaviors such as helping, sharing and using manners. The initiative doesn’t stop at the end of the 64 days, however; the program was expanded to include a summer “Catch ‘em” (being good) initiative a few years ago.
Results are tallied each week, and those who meet prescribed goals are rewarded with after-school snack parties in winter, and field trips during spring break and in summer. Last summer, those “caught being good” were doubly rewarded with a field trip to the Washington Redskins training camp and the Science Museum of Virginia (see photos).
“Our experience shows that, over time, kids embrace the program and want to help newcomers learn the ropes. They model good behavior and even police their peers,” added Williams.
“We’ve even been able to increase the requirements and decrease the incentives over time, with the same positive outcomes.”