School’s Out for Summer!


School’s out for summer!

As that last bell rings and everyone heads for the doors, we wanted to take a minute and look back on the great school year that we’ve had with the Peers Against ViolencE (PAVE) Program, which works in partnership with local schools to promote healthy relationships and prevent teen dating violence.

First, some facts: Between September 2012 and May 2013 we saw 2,709 students as part of PAVE programming. We saw students in classrooms in five schools and worked with students from 12 high schools altogether (including presentations and peer leader trainings). We presented at the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Wellness Conference, Massachusetts Secondary Schools Administrators Summer Conference, Norton College, Grand Rounds at Beth Israel Deaconess-Needham and Lahey Clinic as part of their Wellness Lunch series.

A few other snapshots from the year:

The Shawsheen Tech Teen Dating Violence Awareness Club pitched in to help us set up for the Reach for the Stars Gala last fall, and this spring held an ice cream social to raise awareness among their classmates and raise money for REACH.

The Waltham High peer leaders filmed a Public Service Announcement which they wrote and edited, and they also did a presentation at a REACH staff meeting. They filled us in on the terminology they and their friends use to talk about relationships, and it was very informative for those of us who have been out of high school for longer than we care to admit. They also presented at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health about youth culture and healthy youth relationships. Later, one of the students remarked to the Education Program Manager that it felt powerful to know they were being heard by adults.

We helped a Wellesley High student plan and execute an event for her entire class with the support of the school and provided training for the school staff on how to respond to disclosures from students.

At Billerica High, we helped two Advanced Health Issues students (seniors) create, plan and present to a freshman Wellness class about healthy relationships for their service learning project.

After all that, you could say we’re ready for a vacation!

But for us, the work doesn’t end just because it’s summer. Thanks to an ongoing grant from Community Health Network Area 17, we are continuing our work with the Waltham High Peer Leaders during the summer months. They’ll be coming to our office for eight hours a week for five weeks to learn about the basic topics we cover in our classroom-based education (warning signs, communicating boundaries, bystander intervention techniques) as well as talking about privilege and oppression, intersectionality of violence, community organizing and leadership skills. This will help them as they begin the school year in the fall to be able to talk to their friends about teen dating violence and organize their peers to take action on the issue. We’ll also be busy planning for next year. We’re looking forward to another year of comprehensive work in Wayland, thanks to a continuation grant  we just received from the Metro West Health Foundation. We are grateful to them, the Sudbury Foundation, CHNA-17, as well as the many individual supporters who make this work possible. Mostly we are grateful to the students, because without their hard work, their willingness to talk through difficult issues and their desire to create a better future for themselves and their friends, we would not be as hopeful as we are today. But we see funders, school administrators, faculty, staff, parents, and students committed to this issue, and we know that together we are creating healthy communities and ending domestic violence.

If you’re a parent, you may be seeing more of your kids over the summer and have greater opportunities to have discussions about healthy relationships. Just a reminder that REACH is always here if you need help having those conversations. Please contact Colleen Armstrong, Education Program Manager, at 781.891.0724 x119 or colleen @ for more information.

Have a great summer!