AVP stands for Alternatives to Violence Project, Inc., an international organization which offers 18-20 hour-long experiential workshops on conflict resolution – how to react to conflicts in ways that don’t result in violence.
AVP workshops utilize the shared experience of participants, interactive exercises, games, and role plays to examine the ways in which we respond to situations where injustice, prejudice, frustration and anger can lead to aggressive behavior and violence. Participants discover that while conflict is a part of daily life, violence doesn’t have to be.
The 10-minute video, “A Step Towards Peace” illustrates the basics of an AVP Workshop
The core message of AVP is Transforming Power: the power that each of us has within ourselves to change the outcome of a conflict – toward a negative result and violence, or, toward nonviolence and a peaceful solution. Some of the guides to Transforming Power are respect for self, caring for others, expect the best, think before reacting, and seek a nonviolent path.
AVP workshops empower participants to:
- Identify and manage strong feelings such as anger and fear
- Deal more effectively with risk and danger
- Build trust, empathy, and good relationships with other people
- Communicate well in difficult situations
- Understand why conflict happens and how to react to it.
Each workshop has from 12-20 participants and is led by a facilitating team with 3-6 members. Workshops held in prisons include facilitators from both the inside and the outside communities. There are three levels of AVP workshops: Basic, which introduces the program and its concepts and is the prerequisite to other workshops; Advanced workshops focus on one topic such as anger, forgiveness, reentry, relationships, self-esteem, values & ethics, etc.; and the Training for Facilitators workshop. Certificates are awarded upon completion of each workshop.
The AVP program started in 1975 at Green Haven, a prison in upstate New York, at the request of a group of incarcerated men who asked a group of local Quakers for help in designing a program they could use in prison. All facilitators and participants are volunteers. In the U.S., the program has spread to about 30 states, leading an average of 1,000 workshops per year. Around 85% of the workshops are held in federal, state, and local prisons. AVP workshops are also offered in over 30 countries on six continents.
AVP is an independent, non-profit organization that exists for the sole purpose of conducting these conflict resolution workshops. We are privately funded, primarily from donations and fund-raising efforts. We may charge a small fee to participants in community workshops.
Academic studies of the effectiveness of AVP programs around the country show a definite reduction in recidivism among incarcerated participants.
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