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#DVAM2020 Connection Stories

At the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we asked you to share stories about how you are creating community connectedness. We know that connected communities have the power to prevent violence, and that connectedness is simultaneously more difficult and more important during this time of “social distancing.” Many individuals are experiencing isolation, and rates and severity of domestic violence cases have risen. It is more important than ever that we know how to safely connect with our neighbors. The National Network to End Domestic Violence’s guide is a good place to start.

We are so grateful for the amazing individuals and agencies that shared their stories of creating connections in their communities. We encourage you to learn more about the organizations listed below by clicking on the links to their websites.

Don’t forget to tell us all of the ways you are working to create a safe and connected community for all using this form.

From accessABILITY in Indianapolis, Indiana.

accessABILITY has launched Coffee Talk Outreach Program. Every other Friday (starting 9/25/2020) we offer an opportunity for the community to connect to a Zoom Coffee Talk. Topics are informal and flow with what attendees want to discuss. Click here to learn how to join a Zoom Coffee Talk.

From Middle Way House, Inc. in Bloomington, Indiana.

Middle Way House would like to recognize our Preventionists, Kyla and Lindsey, and the incredible work they have been doing for our agency. They have been connecting people through prevention and outreach activities and curriculums. Our original curriculum is Building Healthy Relationships, and it was offered in person, in schools. Kyla and Lindsey have worked diligently to put this curriculum online to adapt to COVID policies/procedures. This keeps our middle and high school-aged children connected to the program via Canvas.

Kyla has also developed a pilot program with Harmony school to introduce an elementary curriculum using Google Classroom. By utilizing Google Classroom, this content is now available worldwide for anyone who may wish to connect. Kyla has connected survivors in our emergency shelter to outreach and prevention topics such as healthy peer relationships, healthy parent-child relationships, boundaries, consent, etc.

Lindsey has broadened Building Healthy Organizational Relationships to include Anti-Racism discussion series, increasing QueerTalk attendance and LGBTQ support groups, presentations for IU classes, and collaborations with other local groups. Such groups include Building a Thriving Compassionate Community Bloomington, Bloomington Childhood Conditions Summit, and Ending Violence Together Conference. Connecting with other groups is a huge part of our agency’s outreach.

Kyla has taken over Letter Writing Night (LWN) to incarcerated survivors. Having prior experience in violence is a huge risk factor in becoming incarcerated, and most survivors they write to are those who have experienced abuse (e.g. self-defense that was convicted as a crime). A connection with people on the outside decreases their risk for violence while in prison. September LWN on zoom had the largest attendance yet, 27 attendees! Middle Way House would like to shine a light on the work that our Prevention Staff has done to connect to those in need, and those who may be extra vulnerable during this pandemic time. Their connection to their work is heartwarming.

From Family Service Association of Howard County in Kokomo, Indiana.

We created an ‘online’ version of our primary prevention preschool reading program HERO’s Storytime. The program uses 8 popular children’s stories to teach socio-emotional competencies based on the 40 Developmental Assets and the CDC SSNRE’s prevention guidelines. One of our volunteers read the story and we put the recording on Youtube. The stories have a one-pager with an activity and resources for caregiver/parent to learn more about modeling the healthy behavior at home with the preschooler. 

We piloted the program in an elementary school in the spring of 2019.  We have shared the program with Howard County pre-school providers and were planning on rolling it out in Head Start programs pre COVID 19.    I am now collaborating with the Purdue Extension to take the reading program statewide.  Lindsey  Mickler also worked with us to secure funding to pay for 100 sets of books and printed guides for the teachers with activities created to teach the lesson throughout the day. 

We created a training for preschool providers, and give them the kits for free, the kits include a newsletter to send home with parents for every story read, an activity page, as wells as additional resources.  Under Lindsey’s tutelage, we planned to give the kits to residents staying in the Howard County Domestic Violence Sexual Assault program.  I have training scheduled tomorrow for our case managers at the shelter to be able to use the reading program in our life skills courses and share with parents with some ‘education’.   During COVID we asked volunteers to record themselves reading one of the stories, we created a one-page resource that has an activity for parents to do with their child and other resources to expand on the asset being taught in the story.  To find YouTube videos of the story, you can visit FSSA of Howard County and Purdue Extension’s Facebook Pages.

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