Breaking Down the Walls is a comprehensive program designed to unify, empower, and engage every student to create a positive and supportive campus climate. Phil’s groundbreaking techniques help open doors and reveal truths that immediately stimulate self-reflection and community-building. Students learn to interact with a cross-section of their peers, and find that they do not live in isolation, rather, within a community that depends on each of its members to thrive. Students work side by side, learn from one another, and become active participants in the positive development of their campus.
BDTW subject matter and activities have been created to serve a broad vision for positive, healthy campus climate. For one campus, BDTW can serve as a violence prevention program, teaching students crucial communication and listening skills to help navigate times of question or conflict. For another campus, BDTW may serve as a leadership program, empowering leaders from different peer groups to engage and create a school climate that is inclusive, safe, and supportive.
The entire student body is engaged through a school-wide assembly in which a dynamic speaker uses compelling stories, humor, and probing questions about how students see themselves on campus and how they interact with their peers and teachers on a daily basis.
A Learning for Living staff member trains a pre-selected group of students to become small group facilitators. These leaders are handpicked from diverse social groups on your campus (Band, Sports, etc.) so that the idea of “leader” spreads throughout the entire student population, beyond those traditionally considered for leadership roles. Leaders are trained to facilitate important exercises and discussion throughout the BDTW program.
From 2-4 days, 150 different students work with a Learning for Living facilitator and the trained student leaders in a powerful and rigorous all-day workshop. Together, students build a common sense of purpose and identity to increase or improve the compassion and respect on your campus.
My personal joy with leading Breaking Down the Walls comes from watching the participants — students and teachers — realize that they are perfectly equipped to love each other. All that is required is a willingness to listen to each other with out judgment. Part of my vision for myself is that I will influence the world to be kind and loving. Breaking Down the Walls is a wonderful vehicle for me to do just that.
I truly love watching people experience the power of being authentic with each other. I also consider it an honor to be a part of a program that teaches understanding and appreciating differences. It is a great reminder to myself of the power of inclusion with the people in my life.
Facilitating this powerful Breaking Down the Walls event is dear to my heart, as this is a stellar way to bring together all elements of school climate in a way that makes everyone feel included and causes a domino effect of POSITIVE actions.
Breaking Down the Walls is a life-changing experience for everyone involved. I taught high school for 9 years and left the profession to pursue a dream job…and this program allows me to stay connected with the best natural resource: the youth of America. Each day I am amazed at the strength and honesty that lies within the students and the lives they lead. When the students realize their voice, and feel comfortable to be vulnerable, they reveal their strength and illustrate the connection and similarities that we share.
I love that moment when students stop seeing those things that divide them, and instead begin to see the connections between them.
I am a strong believer that most people want to be accepted and appreciated, simply for who they are. Unfortunately, in our world, we are often without the tools for how to share with others who we really are. Breaking Down the Walls allows students to see past cliches, stereotypes, and labels. To see similarities where they once only noticed differences. It is a shared experience that has the power to change a school’s culture and support positive change. I, selfishly, love the growing that I get to do right along with the students.
Students should realize that they are perfectly equipped to love each other. All that is required is a willingness to listen to each other without judgment.
It looks like a smile, sounds like a hello, and feels like love. Care and respect go a long way in making tomorrow a better place. The greatest joy for me is watching the walls come down and the hearts shine through. I’m blessed to be a part of a program that is truly transformative.