February is Teen Dating Violence (TDV) Awareness and Prevention Month and ICADV is highlighting the voices and needs of youth in our Indiana communities! Read on to learn about a youth engagement tool that provides actionable feedback for youth-led community change and a new campaign from our sister coalition in Idaho that shifts the narrative away from divisiveness toward celebrating difference to prevent teen dating violence.
We Choose All of Us is a middle school and high school campaign from the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence. The campaign is designed to “create culture shifts in schools and communities toward a world where everyone is valued, where everyone is safe, and where everyone can thrive.” We know that adolescence is a period when most young people seek a sense of belonging, while at the same time embracing their individuality and independence. This campaign seeks to embrace both of those truths – celebrate differences and let everyone know that they belong, simply by being who they are. We Choose All of Us is working to create safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments – conditions that allow young people to develop to their fullest potential.
In Indiana, youth from Hamilton, Monroe, Marion, Putnam and Vigo counties are engaging in a conversation about what it takes to have safe, stable and nurturing communities on a set of traveling “quilts.” Youth Councils write and draw on the quilts to describe their understanding of what it means for a community or relationship to be safe, stable, and nurturing. One Indiana teen who participated said “nurturing relationships, organizations, and communities help me grow and become the best version of myself.” Another youth said safe is “adequate shelter” and a “constant source of food.” This collaborative project was started by the Council on Domestic Abuse (CODA, Terre Haute) in collaboration with ICADV as a “connectedness” strategy that intentionally brings together Indiana’s youth mentors and their youth groups to develop violence prevention strategies informed by community driven data.
The ICADV Youth Advisory Council plans to use this information to communicate with the Indiana General Assembly about the needs of Indiana youth. This year, the ICADV Youth Council is working to develop policy advocacy skills that they plan to use to advocate on behalf of Indiana Youth during the 2019 Legislative Session.
To participate in the project or learn more, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to talk to you more about engaging youth to make a difference and advocate for safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments.
Cierra Olivia Thomas-Williams