Star Student: Bringing Peace to Peers
Athenian senior Simone Batiste is encouraging other teens to approach situations peacefully.
When Oakland resident Simone Batiste learned of the high rates of youth-on-youth violence in the Bay Area, she decided she wanted to help her troubled peers. So she founded Youth K.N.O.W. Peace, a community art initiative that aims to spread awareness about teen violence. The project encourages young adults to respond to conflict peacefully instead of violently, and become peer leaders themselves.
Diablo spoke with Simone, a student at The Athenian School in Danville, about her efforts.
Q: What is the vision of Youth K.N.O.W. Peace?
The vision is that every youth will have the appropriate knowledge and skills of nonviolent options (actions), and know how to apply them in any environment when interacting with others in order to achieve a peaceful win-win outcome for everyone involved.
Q: How has this project impacted the community?
Youth KNOW Peace is a nonprofit, community-based movement directed at education, advocacy, peer mentoring, and youth leadership. It is something that any youth anywhere can participate in—at school, home, church, or in their community. If these youth are productive citizens who can positively contribute to their communities, then their communities will be better and safer places to live and work. [The youth are] also preparing themselves to be the future leaders, locally and globally.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing about founding a peace project?
The smile I see on these youths’ faces as they take the pledge to be a Youth K.N.O.W. Peace ambassador for their community. It’s satisfying to hear peers share that they are thankful that someone cares about their safety and future wellbeing, without any strings attached. I feel great [knowing] that my one action, my one voice, my one dream and desire to do good for my peers is making a positive impact on them—and me and our communities.
Q: Your younger sister, Camille, is the cofounder of Youth K.N.O.W. Peace. What does she bring to the project?
Camille feels it is critical to reach youth at the elementary and middle school ages because she believes that by the time youth are teens, they are more likely to be settled in their behavioral and thought patterns. If these factors are negative, they may be more likely to give in to negative peer pressure. She also uses her artistic skills to design the beautiful, colorful wristbands that we share with each youth at community fairs and presentations.
Q: Will you continue to lead this project after you graduate?
Yes. This movement is community-based and can operate wherever there are youth. Camille will still be in high school, so I will be working closely with her. As an Athenian alumni, I will always be available to return to my school to share my viewpoint on this matter. I know that giving back to the communities that helped shaped me is vital.
I would [also] like to expand the Youth K.N.O.W. Peace program to college students. There are many incidents of violence on the campus by students against other students which need to be addressed. College students [should] understand that some of the same practices that apply to younger students can also apply to their situations. [The message is], always approach the situation with nonviolent options for a winning outcome.
Q: Who inspires or influences you?
When I get older, I want to be like the strong, empowered, intelligent women who are the trailblazers of today’s society. Through integrity, wisdom, and dedication to our nation’s future generations, our First Lady Michelle Obama has taught me the importance of determination, courage, passion, and compassion. She has inspired me to be a visionary, and to care for my community, so that we can be supported and prepared leaders for [the] present as well as [the] future.
For more information and updates on Youth K.N.O.W. Peace, click here.