This is how we end relationship violence in our youth
By John Finefrock
Youth Violence Prevention Programs
Cheryl Bowdridge, one of Rise’s Youth Advocates, presented to the group about her 8 years leading youth violence prevention programming in Pagosa Springs at the recent coffee talk on August 19th.
Bowdridge outlined Rise’s youth violence prevention programs, which include, but are not limited to, classes and presentations on building healthy relationships, bullying prevention, internet safety, sexual harassment training, and small group activities, among other offerings.
Bowdridge cited that, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, she led an elective at the high school called Youth Rise, where students studied and implemented awareness campaigns around teen dating violence, consent and other topics. She noted the class was popular, with about 75 people applying to be in the class that had only about 22 seats, and stressed that Rise can still offer this kind of programming, at no cost, to every school in Pagosa Springs.
Based on “post-test” data that’s collected after each youth presentation:
“What we’re trying to do in all of this is break the cycle of violence that potentially happens for them,” said Ashely Wilson, education and outreach coordinator for Rise Above Violence. “A lot of these kids are in homes that might not have healthy relationships or might have violent relationships — so what does this look like to sort of create a wedge and break this cycle through education.”
Staff at Rise believe that Youth are the key to changing the landscape of relationship violence happening in our community. If we can intervene before they enter into unhealthy relationships we have a change of actually ending relationship violence in our community!
Action Steps with Youth!
1) Be a positive role model for youth you know. Youth may not see positive relationships modeled at home, but they can learn from other relationships around them.
2) Talk to youth about what healthy relationships look like and be a safe person for them to talk to.
Update on other Programs/Needs
“Currently, our really impending need right now is transitional housing [for our clients],” said Lisa Sifrit, Rise’s housing and legal advocate. “I’m sure everybody knows there’s a housing crisis in not just our town, but the whole state, the whole country — but that doesn’t mean our clients still don’t need places to move to be safe. The running issue is we have plenty of financial support for them but we don’t have anywhere for them to go. There’s no houses, there’s no buildings, there’s really nowhere — but we could financially back them if they had somewhere to go.”
Rise assists with transitional housing to enhance the safety of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in order to provide a safe and stable place for them to begin recovery.
Sifrit told the audience that if any community members have mother-in-law suites, small apartments on their property, second homes that sit vacant for long periods of time, or even campers on vacant land available for rent, to please contact her. She explained Rise Above Violence can potentially pay rent for qualifying clients for1 to 3 months before they find a long-term housing solution, which she noted is very difficult to find in our community. She can be contacted at email@example.com
For more information on Rise Above Violence’s youth programs, contact Cheryl Bowdridge at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-946-2576; or John Finefrock at email@example.com or 970-403-5461.
And don’t miss Rise’s 6th annual Art Above Violence event on Saturday, September 25th! Join us in celebrating our 25th year serving Pagosa Springs! More information, including how to purchase tickets, can be found at riseaboveviolence.org.
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