The City of Birmingham continued its investment in area youths in November by approving funds for a conflict resolution curriculum to be used in Birmingham City Schools (BCS).
The City Council unanimously approved the Common Ground strategy that will provide the Habilitation, Empowerment, and Accountability Therapy (H.E.A.T) curriculum in high schools, middle schools, K-8 and alternative schools within the BCS district. The program uses an evidence-based, culturally relevant, holistic approach to handling anger management and conflict resolution.
The first group of students to experience H.E.A.T. celebrated their completion of the program with a ceremony on Tuesday, December 13, 2022, at Carver High School.
“This is another tool in our toolbox as we work to support prevention measures to address violent crime in our community,” Mayor Randall L. Woodfin said. “I want to thank the Birmingham City Council as well as Birmingham City Schools for this partnership.”
The H.E.A.T. curriculum, currently used in Birmingham Municipal Court as part of the drug court initiative, expanded to a pilot program at Carver High School to address conflict resolution.
“We decided to take that same concept and adapt it to conflict resolution. Instead of talking about substance use or abuse, we talk about violence,” said Birmingham Municipal Court Presiding Judge Andra Sparks.
“We have found the transition has been good. We have seen a significant difference in the young men that have gone through the program.”
“We believe in the program so much that we have brought our school principals on board in support of it. There is a need for conflict resolution in our schools,” Birmingham City Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Sullivan told council members.
The curriculum will be supported by up to 100 trained and credentialed coaches who will provide therapeutic counseling sessions two times a week within Birmingham City Schools. K-5 schools will not be included in this first phase, but up to 15 to 20 students will be identified for the program.
The Pinwheel Group, which created the H.E.A.T. curriculum, will train coaches in the coming weeks. The city is coordinating with Birmingham City Schools to inform parents and guardians about the program
The program budget will be $1 million with all services performed over the next three fiscal years.