Lions-Quest –Skills for Adolescence and Working Towards Peace, Detroit

The Detroit Public School system significantly reduced violent acts and classroom misconduct in fourteen middle schools. They were part of a two-year research project to evaluate the effectiveness of two Lions-Quest programs, Skills for Adolescence, a life skills program for middle school, and Working Toward Peace, an anger management and conflict resolution program for middle school. Lions-Quest fit easily in the school curriculum and involved the community. Program design made it easy to replicate in other cultures.


Note: To minimize site maintenance costs, all case studies on this site are written in the past tense, even if they are ongoing. As of August 2004: Working Toward Peace was no longer offered as part of the Lions-Quest program. The middle school life skills program Skills for Adolescence was offered along with the grade school program Skills for Growing and the high school program Skills for Action. Lions-Quest also offered one-day professional development workshops for teachers on “Managing Anger, Resolving Conflict, and Preventing Violence” for grades K-12 and “Classroom Discipline” for grades K-12.

The Federal U.S. agency, Centers for Disease Control, had classified violence as an official disease in the U.S.A. Young people between the ages of 10-21 years accounted for nearly 40% of all crime committed in Canada and the United States.

Lions-Quest programs were dedicated to creating family-school-community partnerships for positive youth development. For more than 20 years, Lions-Quest had assisted educators and other adults in guiding young people’s healthy development through program materials and staff development workshops in life skills, character education, drug and violence prevention and service-learning. The Lions-Quest programs were among a growing number of intervention programs to prevent youth violence and drug use in the community, reduce negative behaviour, and rebuild a safe learning environment in schools.

The Detroit Public School system in Detroit, Michigan, implemented the Lions-Quest “Skills for Adolescence” program and the “Working Toward Peace” program to reduce youth violence and misconduct in twelve middle schools during the 1993-1994 school year. In the 1994-1995 school year fourteen schools participated.

Lions-Quest’s Working Toward Peace (WTP) program was developed in response to requests from teachers for a program that dealt with violence prevention and anger management for students 10-14 years of age. WTP contained “both primary and secondary prevention strategies to decrease violence and promote positive social behaviours and bonding to school, family, and community.”2. The primary prevention strategy taught students about conflict and anger, while the secondary prevention method taught students how to manage anger and resolve conflicts. Most of these anger management techniques were already part of the broader Skills for Adolescence (SFA) program and had commonly been used in programs with aggressive and delinquent youth.

Lions-Quest integrated approaches and research from several theories and major studies, but was primarily based on social learning theory. The assumption was that some degree of conflict was inevitable among human beings. The basic premise was that the usual response to conflict was anger, therefore Lions-Quest taught students to:

  • Manage their own anger;
  • Decrease the level of tension in their conflicts with others;
  • Avoid conflicts that are trivial or dangerous; and
  • Use problem solving, listening skills and negotiation to resolve their conflicts peacefully.

Lions-Quest could easily be replicated in a variety of settings and across diverse cultures since it had the active involvement and support of the worldwide Lions Clubs, and provided:

  • Professional development workshops
  • Program materials that include:
    • lessons designed to be developmentally age-appropriate
    • a lesson format that addresses young adolescents’ different learning styles
    • a variety of learning modalities lessons related to diverse populations
    • toll-free technical support

In evaluation results from many research studies and surveys, Lions-Quest comprehensive life skills programs, Skills for Growing (primary school program) and Skills for Adolescence (middle school program) had demonstrated effectiveness in changing the knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs that lead to violence and substance abuse, and in strengthening the factors that protect young people from harmful, high-risk behaviors.

In the 1996 Detroit study by Dr. Molly Laird and Dr. Mike Syropoulos, three groups were observed. The first group participated only in the Lions-Quest Working Toward Peace violence prevention program, the second group participated only in the Lions-Quest Skills for Adolescence life skills program and the third was a control group. The details of the study including objectives, delivery, measuring achievements, financing and results are described below.

Setting Objectives

The major goals of WTP and SFA included:

  • Helping students understand the value of peaceful conflict resolution,
  • Teaching students anger management techniques
  • Showing students how to reduce tension levels in conflicts and peacefully resolve them,and
  • Encouraging students to practice their new skills.

In order to set a baseline against which to measure success, the Detroit Public School system performed two Anger Management Knowledge tests in twelve schools in February 1994 for the 1993-94 school year, and fourteen schools in October 1994 for the 1994-95 school year.

The school system also collected data on selected academic measures such as grades, attendance, and achievement test scores; and teachers’ reports of violent behaviour, misconduct, and pro-social behaviour.

Delivering the Program

In late January 1994 during the first school year, teachers used the curricula (whether WTP or SFA) typically one day a week during a semester. Due to a heavy course schedule, teachers were only able to cover half the material by the end of the semester. In the next school year, from October 1994 to mid-January 1995, teachers taught the material typically twice a week. Each session was 40-50 minutes long. The multidisciplinary extensions (for example art, computer technology, drama, etc.) were designed to reinforce the core curriculum and provide essential reinforcing activities that helped students practice their new skills in their other courses. An example of an extension in a drama class would have been practicing facial expressions of anger. Each lesson (whether WTP or SFA) had this cycle:

  1. Introduction – teachers determined students’ knowledge about the current topic through: questions, webbing, and brainstorming techniques.
  2. New Information and Skills – teachers helped connect students’ existing knowledge to new information and skills through: presentations, discussions, dialogue, modeling, group activities, etc.
  3. Activity – students practiced their new skills through: role playing, skits, creative writing, games, group activities, etc. (Building Motivation Over Time)
  4. Closure – teachers asked students what the experience with the new skills meant to them.
  5. Beyond the Classroom – students practiced their new knowledge and skills outside the classroom.
  6. Notebook Entry – this part gave the student the opportunity to reflect individually, in their student books, on the significance of their new skills and how to apply them in situations. (Building Motivation Over Time)

Students kept a portfolio throughout the program. This included, for example, session worksheets, a student book for reflective writing, and self-assessment tests done at the start and end of the programs. Teachers have reported “that portfolios are often the only things that students do not throw away on the last day of school.”3 Student portfolios were a picture of the connection students had made with the course material. It helped demonstrate their strengths and successes. Portfolios were dynamic tools since young people added to, removed from, or reorganized them over time. (Building Motivation Over Time) In part 4, Discovering Pathways to Peace, students applied their new skills by selecting and carrying out a “service-learning” project related to peaceful conflict resolution. (Building Motivation Over Time)



A. Working Towards Peace

Working Toward Peace had five key components (School Programs that Involve the Family):

  1. Classroom curriculum.
  2. Guide to safe schools.
  3. Family Involvement.
  4. Community Involvement.
  5. Professional development for implementers.

1. Classroom curriculum

WTP’s curriculum was composed of:

  • 22 core sessions;
  • A Skills Bank of six basic life skills sessions (The Skills Bank was geared towards students who had not done the Lions-Quest Skills for Adolescence program); and
  • Multidisciplinary extensions. The twenty-two core sessions were grouped like this:
    • Part 1: Managing Our Own Anger(sessions 1-6) Students learned: to differentiate between peace, conflict, and anger to identify potentially dangerous situations and ways to stay safe to identify physical signs and sources of their own anger anger management techniques
    • Part 2: Understanding Conflict(sessions 7-10) Students learned: that violent responses can be unlearned how stereotypes and prejudice keep people from resolving conflicts to apply listening skills to conflicts
    • Part 3: Managing Conflict Appropriately(sessions 11-18) Students: practised responding to bullying and other negative peer behaviours learned and practised negotiating and problem-solving skills for conflict resolution practised their new skills with peers
    • Part 4: Discovering Pathways to Peace(sessions 19-22) Students: studied peaceful role models (Vivid, Personalized Communication) carried out a “service-learning” project

2. Safe school planning guide for school communities

Prevention literature, for example by Peter Benson at the Search Institute, had identified a link between positive school climate, bonding to school, and reduced substance abuse and violent behaviour. To create a safe school environment, the “Working Toward a Safe School” administrator’s guide provided strategies, tools, and resources such as:

  • Establishing a safe school plan including creating a school climate team and developing a crisis plan;
  • Managing dangerous situations involving weapons;
  • Planning and implementing a violence prevention initiative;
  • Various sample forms and surveys including a “Crisis Information Form” and “Student School Climate Survey”;
  • Tips for getting families and communities involved; and
  • A sample parent meeting agenda. One suggested topic was to demonstrate strategies to reduce anger and resolve conflicts such as:
    • RID4
      Recognize your anger signals and accept that you are angry.
      Identify a positive way to think about the situation.
      Do something constructive to calm down.
    • SOLVED
      S – State the problem as you see it.
      O – Open the discussion to other points of view.
      L – List the possible solutions together.
      V – Veto the solutions that are unacceptable to someone involved.
      E – Evaluate the solutions that are left.
      D – Do the one most acceptable to everyone.

Lions-Quest provided striking school posters that stood out and reminded students how to handle anger and conflict situations. (Prompts)

3. Family involvement

Schools invited parents to actively participate in WTP through for example, shared homework assignments with their children, parent meetings, and school activities. Schools provided parents with user-friendly and activity-based materials, and resources such as the Working Toward Peace Family Resource pamphlet with information on pro-social skills, resources, and background on the culture of violence.

4. Community involvement

Schools encouraged active involvement by the Detroit community. They invited community organizations to participate in WTP activities such as training workshops, Safe School Plan activities, school climate events, and panel discussions.

5. Professional Development

Schools encouraged program implementers to participate in a one-day professional development workshop. The workshop gave an overview of the program components and hands-on experience with WTP teaching techniques and materials.


B. Skills for Adolescence

Skills for Adolescence had seven key components (School Programs that Involve the Family):

  1. Classroom curriculum
  2. Service Learning
  3. Family Involvement
  4. Positive School Climate
  5. Community Involvement
  6. Professional Development and Follow-Up Support
  7. Support and Sponsorship


1. Classroom Curriculum

SFA’s curriculum was composed of 102 sequential, skill-building lessons. The program could be adapted to a variety of settings and formats, from a nine-week mini-course to a three-year program. The 45-minute lessons were arranged into eight units:

Unit 1: Entering the Teen Years: The Journey of Adolescence
Unit 2: Building Self-Confidence and Communication Skills
Unit 3: Managing Emotions in Positive Ways
Unit 4: Improving Peer Relationships
Unit 5: Strengthening Family Relationships
Unit 6: Making Healthy Choices (Year 1 for grades 6 or 7 Year 2 for grades 7 or 8 Year 3 for grades 8 or 9)
Unit 7: Setting Goals for Healthy Living Summing Up: Developing Your Potential

To promote school-wide involvement, each unit also provided “Expanding Unit Themes in the School and Community” and “Applications across the Curriculum” activities. A Drug Information Guide was included to provide teachers, students, and families with current information about harmful chemical substances and their effects. The student book, Changes and Challenges, provided information, activities, articles, and worksheets to help students understand the concepts presented in the curriculum and apply them in their own lives. Unit tests were included with each unit to help assess student learning.

2. Service-Learning

SFA provided a step-by-step guide for engaging students in service-learning an essential program component. Beginning with Unit 3, students applied what they were learning in the program to real life issues and problems. Not only did service-learning projects promote cooperation, caring and concern for others, but they also helped make subject matter real and relevant as young people used their knowledge and skills to contribute in their school and community.

3. Family involvement

Families were encouraged to participate actively in the SFA program through shared homework assignments, four parent meetings, and direct involvement in program activities and workshop. Program materials included a book for parents titled “The Surprising years: Understanding Your Changing Adolescent” and the “Supporting Young Adolescents” parent meeting guide.

4. Positive School Climate

SFA helped build a caring and supportive learning environment through classroom and school-wide activities. The “Developing a Positive School Climate” section described how to establish a school climate team of administrators, teachers, parents, community representatives, and young people. This team planned activities and events that helped extend the impact of the program throughout the school.

5. Community Involvement

Members of service organizations, such as local Lions Clubs, business, law enforcement, youth-serving organizations, and religious institutions were encouraged to participate in program workshops, school climate activities, panel discussions, service-learning projects, and parent meetings. These opportunities enabled community members to support the program and have direct input into it.

6. Professional Development and Follow-Up Support

All those overseeing or teaching the program were required to attend a two or three day workshop to learn more about effective youth development and prevention strategies, gain hands-on experience with program materials, and plan for effective program implementation. Under the guidance of a skilled educator, the workshop served as a model of what should take place in the classroom. Administrators, guidance counselors, parents, Lions, community members, and support staff were also encouraged to attend the training so they could actively participate in the program. Follow-up support and technical assistance were available through supplementary program materials and workshops.

7. Support and Sponsorship

Lions-Quest SFA was developed and supported by Lions Clubs International, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School principals, the Association of School administrators, and the National PTA.


Financing the Program

In the first year of the evaluation, the cost was US$89.95 per teacher for the Working Toward Peace program. This included:

  • An optional one-day pre-service workshop,
  • A curriculum set, and
  • Student materials for a class of 25.

In the first year of the evaluation, the cost was US$330 per teacher for the Skills for Adolescence program. This included:

  • A two-day pre-service workshop,
  • All workshop materials,
  • A 16 book curriculum set, and
  • Student materials for a class of 25.

Measuring Achievements

The Detroit study involved two experimental groups and one control group. In one experimental group, students participated in the WTP program, and in the other, students participated in Skills for Adolescence, a Lions-Quest personal and social skills program for grades 6-8. During the 1993-94 school year, to qualify in a program each school had to have enough seventh grade classrooms to create three research groups. To have continuity in the study, during the 1994-95 school year, the focus was on the eighth graders (seventh graders who had graduated). School principals randomly assigned teachers to each research group.

The Detroit Public School system performed Anger Management Knowledge post-tests in June 1994 for the 1993-94 school year, and in January and June 1995 for the 1994-95 school year. In the second school year, Lions-Quest showed teachers how to rate behaviour, such as pro-social interactions on a daily basis. Schools also kept track of violent acts and truancy. Lions-Quest analyzed this data using statistical procedures.

In addition to objective testing, to get a closer picture of real outcomes, many teachers evaluated portfolio items such as worksheets, notebook entries, television anger logs, and written and oral reports on the biography of a peacemaker.

These items sometimes gave a truer picture of achievement, since, through hands-on activities, students displayed their problem-solving, reasoning, planning, and creative abilities.5 In addition, teachers were rated on their ability to cover the Lions-Quest curriculum, and how closely they followed it.



Findings for school year 1993-1994

Skill Group Result
Knowledge about anger resolution and conflict management Skills for Adolescence These students improved their knowledge of conflict management.
Knowledge about anger resolution and conflict management Working Toward Peace Students in this group demonstrated the highest increase in knowledge. In addition, students whose teachers covered more of the WTP curriculum with a high degree of fidelity had the best scores.6
Knowledge about anger resolution and conflict management Skills for Adolescence These students also improved their knowledge, however no further gains were observed in students whose teachers taught with a high degree of fidelity.
Reading achievement Working Toward Peace This was the only group that substantially increased their reading achievement.
Grade point average Working Toward Peace GPAs increased in all subject areas.
Grade point average Skills for Adolescence These students had the highest achievement GPA across all subjects.
-- Control group These students had no gains in anger management, reading achievement, or GPA, although they did show improvement in their math scores. However this could be attributed to their performance in math during the school year 1992-1993.

Outcomes related to behaviour and violence reduction were not measured during this school year, since not enough preparation was given to teachers.

Findings for school year 1994-1995 Students who participated in WTP demonstrated the highest increase in knowledge about anger resolution and conflict management.

The results of teacher ratings of behaviour on a daily basis showed these results:


Behaviour Group Result
Violent acts Working Toward Peace The number of violent acts decreased by 68%.
Classroom misconduct Working Toward Peace and Skills for Adolescence These students had lower rates of misconduct at all reporting periods than the control students.
Aggressive misconduct incidents Working Toward Peace and Skills for Adolescence The sum of aggressive misconduct incidents from October 1994 to January 1995 was significantly lower for these two groups.
Truancy Control group There were 98 truancy events for control students compared to 49 each for the other two groups.
Pro-social events Working Toward Peace and Skills for Adolescence These students showed the greatest increases in the numbers of pro-social events from October 1994 to January 1995.

Retention findings (Spring 1995)

Skill/Behaviour Group Result
Knowledge about anger resolution and conflict management Working Toward Peace Students whose teacher used or partially used WTP retained knowledge about anger resolution and conflict management.
Knowledge about anger resolution and conflict management Skills for Adolescence Students whose teachers taught Skills for Adolescence with a high degree of fidelity retained knowledge about anger resolution and conflict management.
Violent activities Working Toward Peace Students following the WTP curriculum had half the number of violent activities than the control students.
Classroom misconduct Working Toward Peace and Skills for Adolescence These students averaged 0.46 misconduct events compared to 0.86 for the control students. This meant that teachers in comparison classrooms had double the rate of disruptions of the learning process compared to teachers teaching WTP or Skills for Adolescence.
Pro-social interactions Working Toward Peace These students engaged in on average about double the number of social interactions than the control students.


Canada –
Thive! The Canadian Centre for Positive Youth Development
Patricia Howell-Blackmore
Director of Communications and Programs
Lions-Quest Canada
180 Frobisher Drive, Unit 1C
Waterloo, ON N2V 2A2
Toll Free: (800) 265-2680
Local Phone: (519) 725-1170
Fax: (519) 725-3118

U.S.A. –
Lions Clubs International Federation
Mark W. Bularzik
Manager, Lions-Quest Department
Lions Clubs International Federation
300 22nd Street
Oak Brook, IL 60523-8842, USA
Tel. (630 751-5466 Ext. 650
Fax (630) 571-5735




  • The Board of Education for the City of York, Bill Byrd, A comparison of two school-based Conflict Management Programs – Lions-Quest and Second Step (Ontario, Canada, 1996), 4.
  • The Board of Education for the City of York, Bill Byrd, A comparison of two school-based Conflict Management Programs – Lions-Quest and Second Step (Ontario, Canada, 1996), 4.
  • Quest International, Working Toward Peace curriculum manual (Ohio, U.S.A., 1995), 25.
  • Working Toward Peace, 23.
  • Quest International, Working Toward a Safe School, Canadian Administrator’s Guide (Ohio, U.S.A., 2000), 18-19.
  • Working Toward Peace, 22.
  • Lions-Quest, Report for U.S. Department of Education, Expert Panel on Safe, Disciplined, and Drug-Free Schools (Michigan, U.S.A., 1995), 12.

This case study was written in 2003 by Ria van der Veen.

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