No More Violence is a student-led initiative to promote peace among the community of East Dallas and beyond
Escaping the dangers in his native El Salvador to start a new life in East Dallas could have been enough for Elias Palmitano, but it wasn’t.
The Bryan Adams High senior decided he needed to make an impact in his school before graduating.
Palmitano’s parents worked to combat violence within the community while living in El Salvador and soon their son would take up the torch in his new homeland. What ensued was the formation of the No More Violence club. Through Palmitano’s effort, students now meet once a week after school for about an hour to discuss how they can become leaders in their community and help other struggling students.
Getting the club up and running didn’t happen overnight.
Palmitano, who was born in Argentina but moved with his family to El Salvador about five years ago, found inspiration in his parents’ promotion of peace through the No More Violence nonprofit organization. In his home country, he saw schools where gangs had total control, leaving students to live in fear. Palmitano knew he had to advocate for change in his own way.
“That made a huge impact on my life seeing all those schools, all those teenagers, all those ways of life,” Palmitano says. “In Argentina I was a kid but in El Salvador, that’s where it clicked in my head that No More Violence had the potential to do great things.”
It was only when Palmitano and his family moved from El Salvador to Dallas two years ago that the young man’s idea would sprout into reality. Once in our neighborhood, Palmitano asked himself how he could use the lessons he’d learned through the No More Violence program and how to adapt them to resonate with his classmates at Bryan Adams. Last year, the No More Violence club got its legs.
In places with lower-socioeconomic levels, like Bryan Adams where 87.2 percent of the population is econmically disadvantaged, respect becomes a form of currency that students will use violence to protect. Palmitano wants to change the message, instead promoting the value of communication, self-esteem and how to deal with peer pressure. His goal is to help students establish the tools needed to stand up for themselves in a peaceful way.
“I want to … not only make it a lesson but make it something where the students can give their own thoughts and opinions and ideas, just create an environment where trust can be built,” Palmitano says.
Bryan Adams is the first, and currently the only, high school in the country to incorporate this program, according to Palmitano, who adds that there is an elementary school in Fort Worth that has also adopted No More Violence.
Currently, about nine high school seniors are regular members of the No More Violence club. However, Palmitano hopes to bring in more underclassmen during his last year at the school and even afterward. Those that are part of the club are asked to be agents of change and promote the positive values they have learned in their school and their community.
Palmitano plans to continue working on the club right up until he graduates, at which point he’ll hand it off to the students who have been most active. But even after graduation, he wants to continue touting the importance of non-violence as he pursues a career in dentistry. Has has a dream of spreading his peaceful message across the US and the world, fixing teeth for those in need as he goes.
“My plan is to travel around the world providing dental care,” Palmitano says. “But also giving talks and lessons about No More Violence and motivate the patients to become leaders in their community and just make an impact in their own society, their own lives, their own families.”
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