Mission & History of AVP
The Alternatives to Violence Project is a multi-cultural nationwide and worldwide association of volunteer groups dedicated to reducing interpersonal violence in ourselves and the world.
AVP workshops present conflict management skills that can enable individuals to build successful interpersonal interactions, gain insights into themselves and find new and positive apporaches to their lives.
The AVP program offers experiential workshops that empower people to lead nonviolent lives through affirmation, respect for all, community building, cooperation and trust.
The AVP program was founded on and developed from the real life experiences of people inside and outside prison walls. AVP encourages every person's innate power to positively transform himself or herself, and in doing so, begin to transform the world.
Our workshops take place in:
- Prisons -
- Communities -
- Schools -
The AVP program began in 1975 when a group of people inside the walls at Green Haven Prison (NY), calling themselves the Think Tank, felt the need for nonviolence training in preparation for their roles as counselors in an experimental program with young people. They collaborated with the Quaker Project on Community Conflict, and devised a prison workshop. The success of this workshop quickly generated requests for more, and AVP was born. The program quickly spread to many other prisons.
As the program spread, it became obvious that violence and the need for this training exists just a much outside prison walls as within, and that everyone in all walks of life and circumstance is exposed to and participates in violence in some way. Violence comes in many forms: physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse including put-downs, some jokes and some sarcasm, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, neglect and oppression.
Workshops are offered in communities and schools as well as prisons. There are active programs in more than 30 countries on six continents. In the US, in 2008, there were active programs in 35 states. Inside US prisons, more than 1,500 facilitators (947 of those facilitators are/were incarcerated) led 1,704 workshops for 10,979 participants. In communities in the US, 137 workshops were held with more than 1,600 participants. In 2009 in New York State, we held 153 workshops (126 were inside 16 prisons) with 1,882 participants and 309 facilitators: 197 inside faciliators and 112 outside (civilian) facilitators.
What is the AVP Program?
It is a grassroots, all-volunteer experiential program, helping people change their lives...
It is a community program, offering a new approach for community groups, businesses, social service agencies, youth organizations and all who would like to participate...
It is a prison program, that provides space for people inside and outside prison walls to build community that allows for discovery of our own truths and insights as we learn new skills and practice transforming ourselves and the situations we find ourselves in...
It is a program for everyone. Though founded by Friends (Quakers) based on the belief in an innate goodness and, therefore, power for peace in everyone, it draws participants and facilitators from all faith traditions, ethnicities and walks of life...
It is an intensive learning experience, offering three-day workshops on three levels:
- The Basic Workshop
- The Advanced Workshop
- The Training for Facilitators Workshop
The AVP Basic Workshop
The Basic AVP Workshop is an intensive, three-day experience that provides space for participants and facilitators to develop and practice interpersonal conflict transformation skills through a series of step-by-step processes. These experiences in small groups and one-to-one interactions build community and trust through exercises focusing on:
- Developing affirmation skills
- Strengthening communication skills -- Improving both listening skills and assertive methods of expression.
- Building cooperative relationships -- Replacing competition with cooperation.
- Practicing creative conflict transformation -- Practice being open and available to Transforming Power -- our inner goodness -- and allowing it to work through us to transform us and "the other". Role plays provide an opportunity to explore this power and learn new and creative ways to respond to real life conflicts in our lives.
- Having fun!
AVP workshops are an opportunity to learn new skills, deepen personal relationships and make a difference in our communities. AVP seeks to assist individuals in personal growth and change. AVP is not psychotherapy. Each workshop is limited to 20 participants.
The AVP Advanced Workshop
The Advanced AVP workshop focuses on the underlying causes of violence, both in ourselves and in the world we live in. It is designed to give participants opportunities to build community, review in depth the concept of Transforming Power and proceed to set individual and group goals for the focus of the remainder of the workshop.
A workshop's focus topic might be:
- Fear -- Reveals the hidden fears that usually underlie anger, jealousy and prejudice.
- Anger -- Results in a deeper understanding of where our anger comes from and therefore a means to address those root causes.
- Power -- (And powerlessness) Explores power structures and develops understanding / sense of our own power.
- Communication -- Develops the skills and the ability to communicate truth with love in tense and stressful situations.
- Forgiveness -- Builds the groundwork for true reconciliation and freedom from guilt.
- Stereotyping -- Builds awareness of stereotyping, bias and prejudice in personal relations.
- Man-woman relationships -- Explores issues of fear, anger, power and powerlessness.
- AIDS -- Understanding and acceptance for people who are HIV+
- And others -- Whatever the group finds most compelling.
- Special topic workshops on Anger Management, Parenting, Fatherhood, Manly Awareness.
(Prerequisite: Completion of Basic Workshop)
The AVP Training for Facilitators Workshop
TO BECOME AN AVP FACILITATOR...
Begin by completing the Basic AVP Workshop and then an Advanced Workshop. If you find that these are experiences you would like to share and you would like to become an AVP facilitator, take the Training for Facilitators Workshop.
This workshop focuses on developing team building, leadership methods, and group process skills. Participants will work in small groups, actually functioning as facilitator teams. You will receive guidance and practice in facilitating all parts of a Basic Workshop:
- Team Building & Team Contract
- Choosing a Team Leader
- Transforming Power Talk
- Light & Livelies
- Role Plays
As the last step in the training, you will apprentice with workshop leadership teams in other Mini, Basic or Advanced AVP Workshops.
Correctional officers are invited to participate in community workshops and become facilitators and lead community workshops. However, it is AVP policy not to allow correctional officers to participate in prison workshops given the inherent power imbalance doing so would create among participants.
Where, and for whom have Youth Workshops been done?
- Juvenile Justice "clients" & Young Offender Centers
- School classrooms -- we hold mini workshops in schools and full workshops with 8 - 12 graders outside of the classroom
- Teen Mom groups
- Street Gangs & Gang Exit Programs
The first AVP workshop was organized due to a perceived need to counter youth violence. However, during its early years, AVP focused on adults. The program as presented in the general Manuals works well down to 16 years of age, and some as young as 10 have participated in and facilitated multi-generational workshops.
Due to widespread interest in youth workshops, an AVP Youth Manual has been published. This manual, and the workshops it addresses, are tailored to 10-16 year-olds.