On June 3, Da’Nille Lemon, a 14-year-old 8th grade student at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Middle School in the Portola District, will become the youngest recipient of Community Boards’ The Gail Sadalla Rising Peacemaker Award at their annual Peacemaker Awards.
Da’Nille serves as the peer mediation project leader for the Restorative Mediation Program, and participates in her school’s Peer Resources elective, a program that empowers youth to create just change. She also founded the “No Flex Zone,” a place in her school’s cafeteria where students can sit and relax without having to worry about being harassed or teased.
“The main thing I like to do is to help people. If I see something that needs to be changed, I do my best to make that change,” Da’Nille said.
Community Boards, the country’s longest-running mediation service, awards a youth peacemaker who is making a difference in their school or community and setting an example for other youth in anti-violence and peacemaking activities.
“It’s exciting to see how San Francisco’s programs like Peer Resources are creating a new generation of young peacemakers,” said Community Boards Executive Director Darlene Weide. “Da’Nille Lemon’s ‘No Flex Zone’ is a great example of how youth-led peacemaking can change a school’s culture and positively impact other students.”
Da’Nille knows firsthand what being bullied feels like, and credits her mother, Tennille Lemon, for teaching her to stand up for herself, build her self-confidence, and to be herself—messages she now imparts to her peers.
At MLK, she has already helped resolve 20 disputes, including play-fighting turning into real violence, name-calling, and gossip. Da’Nille talks to students to convince them to use mediation, and when a session is scheduled, she picks up students from their classroom and accompanies them. She also provides oversight, training and feedback to other mediators.
Community Boards celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, and offers a range of affordable conflict resolution programs and services to residents, businesses, schools and communities throughout San Francisco.