In November, a group of ten high school students gathered at the headquarters of the Alliance of Concerned Men (ACM) in Washington, D.C. to participate in a simulation of community violence with START’s ICONS Project.
The simulation was the capstone experience following several weeks of conflict resolution training. The simulation was designed specifically to test how effectively the students were able to take the conflict resolution lessons to heart, and to deescalate a violent situation in order to resolve it peacefully.
This program was a partnership among ACM, the Institute of World Affairs (IWA) and the ICONS Project. IWA is an organization which works at the international, national and community levels to better understand and resolve conflict, while ACM works to prevent violence among at-risk youth residing in high crime areas of the Washington, DC metropolitan community. It has successfully facilitated a truce between rival gangs, implemented a number of after school programs for young people, and worked with students at American University to develop a manual of conflict resolution which was central to this program.
The pilot program was designed to meet the growing need in Washington, DC in general and in the city’s most challenged communities in particular to address community violence, especially among children and young adults.
The feedback from the pilot confirmed that the multi-faceted approach worked, with participants noting that although violence is a given in some communities, they learned that there are ways to confront that reality and move past them, and they learned the importance of having a role model or mentor who they know is on their side.
Building on more than 30 years’ experience, the ICONS Project provides organizations around the world with custom-designed simulations, wargames and exercises to help plan for unique challenges and manage crises. ICONS specializes in scenario planning, operations continuity and reputation management and has conducted exercises to help public and private organizations anticipate how to manage geo-political risk, respond to a disinformation campaign and how to assess and mitigate violent extremist threats.
To learn more, read the ICONS capabilities brief about its work with the public and private sectors. ICONS also maintains a catalogue of off-the-shelf simulations for educators to use in the classroom. Instructors seeking online educational opportunities for their students can find more information and register on the ICONS website, or can send questions to the ICONS team at firstname.lastname@example.org.