Philadelphia Youth Media Collaborative

Professional Development

Creating Safe(r) Spaces Training

March 22, 2012 by admin in Professional Development

Today we were fortunate to host a Safe Spaces training, facilitated by Louie Ortiz and Khaliah Pitts from the Mazzoni Center. The 2 hours was packed with a lot of information, activities, vocabulary and strategies for working on creating safer spaces in your environment (work space, classroom, organization, community center, etc).

In thinking about this definition, we are reminder that this work is WORK, and it takes constant attention. Just to say ‘Here we have a safe space’ is not so, we must work at it. Within this definition, their is an emphasis on decisions and actions. If we as educators are committed to empowering youth to use their voice, we have to be committed to creating spaces where this is possible and often this means being willing to make ourselves vulnerable as well.

Remember: No action = action

A ‘safe space’ is the environmental product of a conscious set of decisions and actions taken by individuals to promote equality, fairness, non-violence and affirmation of the unconditional value of all peoples, where youth are free to grow, thrive and express their individual identities.”

Boat Game cards We started the session with the “boat game.” In 2 teams we were given 15 cards each and told that all these people are left on an island that is about to get flooded. The rescue boat can only take 8 people. We had to decide who will be saved and who will be left behind. The goal of this activity was to start to become aware of the snap judgments, stories and decisions we often make based on little information we may know about someone.

// Stereotypes = assumptions based on little of no information //

We all do this. The more we become aware, and ‘give grace’ to ourselves to acknowledge the constant work it takes to change our behaviors and beliefs, especially while living in a culture (with institutions and media) that perpetuate

particular attitudes and beliefs as Truths.

“Don’t be afraid to be wrong. Eliminate right or wrong.” // “Once you name it, you can claim it.”

We spent some time talking about different identities and terms and assessing the different privileges we may have and how they impact our ability to move through the world and access tools, opportunities and choices which may lead to our ability for self actualization.

To close, we were introduced to TRICC, a set of ground rules, for establishing safe spaces.

  • Trust : Have Faith (faith in the process, faith in each other). It’s a natural instinct that we lose.
  • Respect: Set boundaries. It is not selfish to share those boundaries with others. If they are not established, how can they be respected?
  • Intimacy: Have intentional and courageous conversations. If there is an issue, address it. Don’t stuff it.
  • Communication: How you say it. Be aware of your body language, expression and openness to receive those courageous conversations.
  • Cooperation: Not of these items can happen in a vacuum by one person- they require the agreement and willingness of all those involved.


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