Canadian School of Peacebuilding

Heart of Hope: A Guide for Using Peacemaking Circles to Develop Emotional Literacy, Promote Healing & Build Healthy Relationships

By Carolyn Boyes-Watson and Kay Pranis

This resource guide is designed for practitioners who work with youth, young adults, and their families within social services, violence/pregnancy prevention, education, and positive youth development programs. It offers a flexible set of tools that can be applied to a range of settings and for a variety of purposes. We believe that any caring and responsible individual can learn to use these practices safely, creatively, and effectively:

  • the peacemaking circle;
  • the practice of mindfulness/meditation; and
  • exercises and concepts derived from Power Source, an emotional awareness/emotional literacy program for at-risk youth and young adults.

The peacemaking circle is the core practice of the guide. In Heart of Hope (HOH), the peacemaking circle provides the environment in which participants develop emotional awareness and emotional literacy and learn to practice mindfulness. Users learn how to plan, create, and facilitate the peacemaking circle as a safe place for shared dialogue. The resource guide provides 50 step-by-step model circles. Each model circle offers activities for building and deepening relationships as well as for developing emotional awareness and emotional literacy. It also includes easy-to-use exercises in breathing, simple yoga, and meditation.