LivingSidebySideⓇ: Facilitating Change Among Diverse Sectors

In our highly divided, competitive, and fast-paced society, the value of social cohesion is spoken about but has lost its emphasis in the last decade. While the world feels filled with hate, conflict, and oppressive systems being exposed more every day, there are resources available to combat these issues. LivingSidebySide(LSBS) is a program developed by Legacy International and designed for a wide range of ages, from middle school to adults. It provides professional development training to facilitate face-to-face, intergroup communication skills, conflict prevention and resolution, project planning and implementation of civic action while embedding social and emotional “soft skills,” throughout. The objectives achieved by the LivingSidebySide(LSBS) program are increasingly vital to a peaceful world. 

Conceptualized in the ‘80s and originally designed for Legacy International’s Global Youth Village summer camp program, LivingSidebySideⓇ (LSBS) runs on a three-pronged framework. These include increasing awareness and discovery of shared values and goals among and within groups, learning new skills, and applying those skills through school or community projects. These goals are applied through the evidence-based program with a comprehensive and interactive methodology to an array of communities and age ranges. When the program is implemented in schools, it can spread over a period of 6 to 8 weeks, and depending on the level of implementation – from middle school to college to the adult community – and can be executed in school, after school, at community centers, or tailored to the need.

LivingSidebySide(LSBS) has been implemented in 125 New York City Schools, 10 schools in Kyrgyzstan, with groups from Israel/Palestine, Russia, Northern Irish Protestants and Catholics, and the United States, among others, with exceedingly positive results. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) conducted a mixed-methods experiment to measure short and medium term results of program implementation. When applied in schools, teachers reported that they were using the methods learned through the program with their families as well as in the classroom, and saw new conflict-resolution and mediation skills among their students. Parents noticed improvements in their parent-child relationships, their children’s academic performance, and students were more tolerant, respectful, and thoughtful. There were fewer conflicts among classmates, and homework was completed more often. 

The outcomes of LivingSidebySide(LSBS) in middle and high schools is as important as it has ever been. Starting to learn the skills that LivingSidebySide(LSBS) implements into schools at an early age promotes positive interaction, responsibility, and communication skills that students take with them into the future. LivingSidebySide(LSBS) for students in middle and high school offers a 36 hour youth program that can be divided and implemented during the school day or in afterschool programs, summer camps, youth clubs, or weekend workshops. To extensively teach these skills of critical thinking and decision making, responsibility and accountability, civic engagement, and so on, while students are still in school and not yet of voting age ensures that they will go forward into the workforce and their communities with compassion in mind and these skills at hand.

The LivingSidebySide(LSBS) program runs solely on donations and grants, and needs funding to continue the program and adapt to the ever changing circumstances of COVID-19. In the adverse and often hostile political culture that has emerged recently, the work that LivingSidebySide does, especially in middle and high schools, has become increasingly important and vital to peacebuilding in the United States. The face-to-face approach that LivingSideBySide uses has been forced to acclimate virtually to a new environment where in-person interaction during this pandemic may be risky. Thus, theLivingSidebySide(LSBS) program necessitates funds to alter their framework to fit this new reality.

To bring LivingSidebySide® to your city, school district, organization, or country, please contact Marlene Ginsberg for more information.