REY employs youth apprenticed in restorative justice to train others in building community, repairing harm, and transforming institutions.
REY was featured in the Houston Bar Association's "Behind the Lines" podcast. Go here to listen!
Contact us for a sample lesson from our Reentry through Resilience Curriculum today!
Restorative Empowerment for Youth, or REY, was borne from a belief that restorative justice can be practiced by anyone who is apprenticed by others in the community who are familiar with the philosophy – one need not pay for hundreds of hours of training or have a professional degree in order to facilitate circles. However, we believe that the implementation of restorative practices does necessitate some prerequisites: practitioners must display vulnerability, humility, transparency, open-mindedness, and self-knowledge in order to do work that is truly restorative, not just in name.
We also believe that restorative practices are important not just to repair and build relationships, but to repair what is wrong in the world, and to tip the scales of justice so that our systems serve and value all young people. The best ambassadors of this mission are youth. We compensate college students who have been apprenticed from our restorative justice leadership program so they may continue their practice and convince other adults about the transformative nature of circles, giving voice to the very individuals educators purport to support - our young people.
As a result, our trainings acknowledge the material conditions many of our students face, particularly in urban areas. We also see restorative justice as a means to disrupt the school to prison pipeline, which disproportionately impacts students of color. We explore implicit biases of educators, youth development, and ways to engage our students through restorative pedagogy and disciplinary practices, so that they may become agents of change who can transform the education system and beyond.
Restorative Empowerment for Youth promotes a Youth Apprenticeship Model (YAM) of restorative justice which has three characteristics:
RESTORATIVE. It repairs relationships not only between individuals in schools; it repairs students' relationship with the institution of schooling itself.
EMPOWERMENT. It allows youth to see their own agency in the world and to transform the education system to allow for student voice and community input.
YOUTH. We hire college students to co-facilitate our trainings because they are the true levers of change for educational justice, and are the most compelling people to convince educators about the long term power of restorative justice.
REY apprentices youth and adults through the practice of Circles, a community initiated space of deep listening where participants sit in a circle, passing a talking piece to speak one at a time, and build relationships and repair harm as necessary.
As educator and consultant, Udoro Gatewood has a Masters in Counseling from the University of St. Thomas, and has consulted in Houston, Philadelphia, San Antonio and South Carolina. She believes restorative justice sits at the crossroads of her two passions, social justice and social emotional learning. She is co-founder of the Restorative Justice Collaborative of Houston.
Co-Founders Udoro Gatewood and Anita Wadhwa built and refined a restorative justice program at a small high school in Houston, Texas which relied on youth to facilitate circles of all kinds in the school and around the city.
In its first three years, Gatewood, Wadhwa, and the youth facilitated 100 circles of all kinds, including support, healing, reentry, truancy, community building, accountability, and academic. 89 percent of participants were either very satisfied or satisfied with the outcomes, and 95 percent of support circle participants reported feeling more confident in the supports available for them to achieve their goals.
The program has been featured on local and national NPR, and over the years youth have conducted circle trainings with students, social workers, probation officers, teachers, principals, and parents all over Houston, and twice at the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Alumni of Color Conference.
A native Houstonian, Anita Wadhwa received her Ed.D from Harvard, and is the author of Restorative Justice in Urban Schools: Disrupting the School to Prison Pipeline. While in Boston she was mentored by Janet Connors. She is currently the Restorative Justice Coordinator at Yes Prep Northbrook High School, and founded the Restorative Justice Collaborative of Houston.
"The case scenarios are a fabulous way for the participants in the groups to dialogue."
Community in Schools Worker, Spring Branch
"If you are considering implementing restorative practices at your school, place of employment or just want to learn more about it for your own personal knowledge, REY's knowledge, passion and style cannot be matched."
Mor Regev, LMSW
Social Worker, KIPP Courage College Prep
"The training was great! I am a certified mediator and so I was aware of many of the ideas that were being used. I was not aware of this particular program though! I loved learning about it and getting to see these college students in action."
Community in Schools Worker, Baytown
"The training was so helpful in implementing the program at our school (Morton Ranch High School)...students tell their stories and give you a whole new perspective on student voice, the impact of discipline poorly implemented and the power of community. So powerful!"
Restorative Justice Coordinator, Katy ISD
IN THE MEDIA
REY has been featured in the following places:
Book review of Restorative Justice in Urban Schools by Anita Wadhwa, International Review of Victimology, 2017
Anita Wadhwa: How Schools, and Our Lives, Can Become Liberating Places, August 2017, RJ on the Rise Podcast
Live From Summit 2017: Re-Thinking Student Discipline: What Schools Are Trying and Learning, May 2017
Harvard Ed. Magazine, Summer 2016,Books
Free Press Houston, April 2016
Psychology Today, March 2016
KUHF, Local NPR, January 2016
Bridges Magazine, Fall 2015, p.21 (University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work)
Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice, Webinar
Huffington Post, January 2015
The Pollination Project, January 2015
National NPR, May 2014
KUHF, Local NPR, April 2014
KUHF, Local NPR, April 2014