The Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) is a grassroots, international, volunteer organization offering experiential workshops in prisons, schools and the community to encourage personal growth and empower individuals to lead non-violent lives through affirmation, respect for all, community building, co-operation and conflict resolution. AVP has grown from its beginnings in New York State when the Quaker Project on Community Conflict assisted inmates at Green Haven Prison with one workshop in 1975. Now, AVP workshops are offered throughout Canada, the USA and the world.
As the program spread, it became obvious that violence and the need for this training exists just as much outside prison walls as within, and that everyone in all walks of life and circumstances is exposed to and participates in some way in violence -- be it physical or "intangible".
Workshops are now offered extensively in communities and schools. Workshops have been held for businesses, churches, community associations, street gangs, halfway houses, women's shelters, and many others. The program has been growing at the rate of 25 to 30 percent each year since. There are currently almost 2000 volunteer AVP facilitators in the USA. In 1991 over 270 workshops were conducted in New York State and the program has spread to 40 other states, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Costa Rica, Ireland, Israel, Russia, and South Africa.
(AVP is currently active across Canada as well.)
The community facilitators work closely with the well trained and able 'inside' facilitators. These individuals are inmates at the prison who have proven their ability to share the non-violent messages of AVP.
The number of workshops that the facilitators are able to provide depends on a core of dedicated volunteers to lead the workshops. AVP-Canada council is always seeking more volunteers. While the committment is great, the rewards are as well. AVP facilitators quickly state that they gain more from the participants in their workshops than they give in time and effort.