YMCA of Metropolitan Denver partners up to connect communities, promote healthy behaviors, and create “Peaceful Schools”

(Denver, September 14, 2015) – This time of year, students are heading back to school, and ready to get to know new teachers, schedules, and friends. But for many kids, back-to-school means unexpected challenges, or a return to tough situations.

The issue is bullying, a nationwide problem affecting one out of every 4 children each month. For students, bullying can be the difference between a great day of learning and a day of just making it through – scared, defeated, or depressed.

To combat bullying and foster kindness, the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver is partnering with the Rotary Club of Denver to create safe environments, where children develop positive social and emotional skills that help prevent bullying behaviors. Through the Peaceful Schools initiative, children learn how to:

  • Establish positive relationships
  • Develop empathy for others
  • Resolve conflicts non-violently
  • Make responsible decisions

Peaceful Schools is taking place now as part of the daily curriculum at Iowa Elementary School and Jewel Elementary School in Aurora. Each session is led by high school students who are enrolled in a leadership class at Aurora’s Gateway High School or are part of “Y Leaders,” a group of YMCA volunteer teens who meet regularly to plan and implement service projects throughout Aurora.

As Peaceful School instructors, these teens act as role models for the younger students, teaching them how to understand their emotions and express feelings in positive ways.

“The program is a great example of what can be accomplished through collaboration,” said Rachel Sloan, program coordinator for the Aurora YMCA. “Peaceful Schools builds connections that meet a need in the community. And it brings together older students and younger students, building values across both age groups.”

Through Peaceful Schools, Y Leaders, and evolving partnerships with youth associations and schools throughout Aurora, Sloan said the YMCA continues to create ways for students of all ages to learn from each other to not only build healthy relationships, but also make our communities stronger.

Schools interested in incorporating Peaceful Schools into their curriculums and teens seeking service learning opportunities are encouraged to contact Rachel Sloan at the Aurora YMCA at

MEDIA ALERT: Opportunities for interviews and video coverage of volunteers and students can be arranged. Contact for scheduling.


About the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver

A leading non-profit, the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver brings together over 71,000 children, teens, members, and volunteers in a shared commitment to strengthen community. Through a variety of programs and services, we promote youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility throughout Denver and at our five locations in Arvada, Littleton, Southwest Denver, University Hills, and downtown. We are one of 2,700 YMCA organizations nationwide, collectively helping more than 21 million people learn, grow, and thrive. To join, donate, or get more information, visit