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Means to a resolution can be mediation

Means to a resolution can be mediation

“Mediation is a process in which an impartial person attempts to help you resolve your differences with another,” reads a flyer from a group of Perry Countians who recently received funds to implement a conflict resolution program. “It requires commitment on both sides to take the process seriously. Mediation is a process where only one issue is addressed at a time.”

A roughly $4,500 grant from The Partnership for Better Health was secured to train members of the community to implement a conflict resolution program. The program originally was conceived as being only for seniors but is open for all Perry County residents. Six individuals engaged in the training to understand the positive and negative aspects of conflict, to identify individual values, to know how to create win-win solutions to conflict, to be educated on personal responses to conflict, to learn redirecting techniques, and other skills.

“The mediation process is a two-session process, with approximately an hour devoted to each session,” explained Kathryn Magill, who was instrumental in starting the program. “Once a solution is agreed upon by both parties in session one, a follow-up meeting is scheduled several weeks later to determine the success of the resolution. It is important to note that the mediation process is always short-term and is in no way a counseling model, nor is it meant to be. Counseling needs will be referred to agencies in the county that handle the need.”

In beginning the mediation program, Magill worked with five others — pastor Wyatt Taylor, Barry and Joan Corkle, pastor Will Cole and Philip Beaver. The group expanded upon the initial conception, the program being exclusively for seniors, by developing a mediation kit that will allow more mediators to be trained. The group hopes to expand the program into county schools and agencies. They hope to team with another nonprofit to be able to expand their reach. The group has distributed flyers to all senior centers in the county.

The group strives to find neutral spaces to hold mediations, such as churches. Despite the involvement of clergy and the use of churches to host mediations, the group emphasized that the program is secular.

“Even though churches are being very receptive, it’s secular in nature,” Magill said. “It’s an impartial process to help people resolve their issues in a two-step fashion. It’s not long-term.”

The group will conduct mediations between only two parties. To participate in mediation, both parties must agree. The mediator will guide the conversation, redirecting if necessary to stay on topic. During mediations, the mediator will take notes, which will be kept confidential.

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