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The Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP)

Helping others express themselves in a non-violent way is one of the hundreds of ways in which Medical Mission Sisters around the world try to be a healing presence to those in need today.

Sister Barbara Ann Brigham believes very much in the importance of living in a non-violent way. To enable others to do so, she has become very active in the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP).

Started in prisons in the United States in 1975, the Alternatives to Violence Project is dedicated to reducing the level of violence in our society. It introduces persons to ways of resolving conflict that do not resort to physical, mental or emotional retaliation as the only solution.

AVP is an association of community-based groups and prison-based groups. They offer experiential workshops in conflict management, responses to violence and personal growth. The national organization provides support for the work of these local groups and keeps them updated on resources that have been proven to help others in especially stressful situations.

Sister Barbara Ann, who is fluent in Spanish, began her AVP work when she was in mission in Peru. Today she is a trainer for the Alternatives to Violence project and conducts workshops with prison inmates; with a team at New Jerusalem Now, a residential recovery program founded by our Sister Margaret McKenna; and with residents of Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood, where Sister Barbara Ann lives.

The workshops use the shared experience of participants, interactive exercises, games and role-plays to examine the ways in which we respond to situations where injustice, prejudice, frustration and anger can lead to aggressive behavior and violence. It helps participants learn to understand why they feel the way they do when confronted with these realities. An AVP workshop then teaches participants how to manage anger and fear; how to deal effectively with risk and danger; how to communicate well in difficult situations; how to understand why conflicts happen, and more.

Sister Barbara Ann says, “Our society has so much violence in it, anything we can do to stop it is good.”

March 1, 2013