Community HEAL Circles: Collective Justice and Creative Justice Youth

Community News

Seattle, WA
May 20, 2022

Clara Olivo has been co-facilitating our weekly youth circle in collaboration with Creative Justice since its launch in January. She got involved with CJ by participating in a Community HEAL Circles Facilitator training last fall. Unbeknownst to her, it was CJ’s first time doing a full training series, and she was later offered the opportunity to co-facilitate the collaborative youth circle alongside several other wonderful facilitators. “Collective Justice and Creative Justice were two organizations that I came across on social media and knew nothing about and now I’m in it. Being able to walk through the training and learn the foundational skills is really fruitful and being a facilitator is really putting me to the test and challenging me, learning about relationships in circle and just in life.”

The circle is held weekly over the course of five months by three facilitators, and centers 12 BIPOC youth. A lot of the topics being covered are rooted in restorative justice and transformative justice principles. The curriculum being used was originally curated for our HEAL program which launched in 2017 at Washington State Reformatory.  The facilitators are learning to adapt the curriculum to fit the needs of the youth they work with, and that looks like reframing concepts like accountability, healing, and restorative justice to be digestible, approachable, and accessible to young people who may not have had any exposure to concepts like that at all. “When it comes to these young people, we are meeting them where they are. The language and structure doesn't really meet their needs. We definitely came into it being like ‘this curriculum is made for this group,’ but realized it's not really. We are just taking it slow and taking our time on topics when needed.”

When asked about how circle is going so far, Clara shared that participants are really exemplifying and embodying some of the topics that were covered so far. “Seeing some of the young people hold their friends accountable in the circle is so beautiful. It's like a ripple effect and it blossoms and grows to the others,” she shared. “They love the games! We’ve had to add more activities with movement, games, and relationship building because these topics are intense and that can be a lot for young people. They also love to lead grounding and sometimes they’ll share a song they wrote or music they’re listening to. They’re glowing when they share things like that.” 

The facilitators hope to continue working on curriculum development to better shift and adjust it to be more adaptable to young people in the future. The facilitation team she is working with plan to review the curriculum post circle completion and take the time to reflect on what worked best and what didn’t work so well. “Feedback and input after circle is going to be super useful.” Clara noted. “The hope is to strengthen and sustain these relationships with young folks cause they’re going to go out into the world with this new knowledge.” 

The art photographed above was created by circle participants during Art Day.

Clara Olivo

Clara (she/her/ella) is a facilitator for Collective Justice’s (CJ) Community HEAL Circles. She is currently facilitating our circle for youth in collaboration with Creative Justice. Clara is a queer, neurodivergent AfroSalvi living in diaspora. Born and raised in South Central L.A to Salvadoran refugees, Clara brings her lived-experience and passion for a better, safer world into her healing practice.