When founder Stefan Van Voorst started One2One 10 years ago he had one goal in mind, facilitating intentional relationships. One2One is founded upon the belief that intentional relationships create change, and build communities “research shows that nearly every aspect of health and well-being improves for individuals and communities that are connected” (One2one.org). With this in mind, One2One began as a school-based mentor program that matched college students with 5th-9th graders in Brooklyn Park schools as a way to facilitate intentional one-on-one relationships and build connection.
While we had considerable success with our mentor-to-mentee model and the goal to facilitate intentional relationships remains the same, the Covid-19 pandemic and social injustices occurring in our communities has had a major impact on us all but especially on our youth. Because of this, One2One thought that we should adapt our model to better meet the expanding needs of our youth. We began this transition when we brought in our five Changemakers over the summer and provided them with the tools and resources to successfully facilitate conversations and cultivate intentional relationships with their peers. With the knowledge they gained, our changemakers helped us facilitate several consensus workshops with their peers from various Minneapolis / St. Paul neighborhoods on the topics of public safety and community values.
The overwhelming positive response from our summer workshop participants on their experiences encouraged us to head into the 2021-22 school year with a new peer-to-peer model. This model focuses on building intentional relationships between the youth and their peers and within their communities. We noticed that when we focus on building and strengthening the relationships the younger generations have with one another, their connections have real power to dismantle the barriers that divide us.
Now, One2One is currently in the process of implementing a program using the new peer-to-peer model at one school that we’ve consistently worked with in the past, North View Middle School. This program will prioritize facilitating intentional relationships between the students at North View because we believe they are the ones capable of creating the school culture and community they desire. To assist in facilitating the program, we kept on two of our changemakers who will utilize the skills and tools they learned over the summer. Through the use of our ERIC model, fun daily activities, interactive consensus workshops, in-depth conversations, leadership development and more, One2One aims to facilitate intentional relationships, prioritize the needs of the students, and empower and magnify their voices within their school and communities.