LIHUE — Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami took time on annual Conflict Resolution Day, coinciding with International Conflict Resolution Day, on Thursday, to thank the volunteer mediators with the Kauai Economic Opportunity Mediation Program.
He presented a proclamation at the Lihue Civic Center Mo‘ikeha Building and asked their help in solving some of the bigger issues the county cannot handle alone, citing as an example a situation on the South Shore that was resolved using mediation.
The KEO Mediation Program has provided services since 1982, and for the Fifth District Court since 1997, for successful resolution of conflicts in civil cases without the need for a formal court hearing, the proclamation states.
“For every three successful resolutions, it saves the court a full day of work,” said Annaleah Atkinson of the KEO Mediation Program. “Mediation saves the court system money that can be used in other ways.”
Alternative dispute resolution processes provide people with opportunities for successful resolution of conflicts, and gives people a path to find solutions that may not be available in a court room or other litigious setting.
These processes provide people with opportunities to save costs and time, preserve relationships, and give parties greater control over the process of resolving disputes.
“The trained volunteers, with the support from the county, initiate people to better tomorrows,” said J Robertson, KEO board president. “Settling disputes affects people beyond the parties involved. The resolution spills over to neighbors, the community, and nearly everyone,” Robertson said.
Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process in which trained neutral mediators help parties discuss, define and resolve disputes, according to KEO program description information.
Some of the conflicts that can be mediated include disputes between family members, landlords and tenants, and schools and juveniles.
Peer mediation is also taught and practiced in several schools on Kauai, not only as a way of solving individual disputes, but also as a means toward achieving a more peaceful learning environment.
“It teaches the young people the skills needed to solve problems,” Robertson said. “When they encounter the situations as adults, they already have the skills.”
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.