Every summer, REACH runs a training for peer leaders at Waltham High School as part of our teen dating violence prevention program. The training is taking place this week, and to tell you about it, we’re sharing this reflection written by one of our seniors after the 2016 training.
This summer I attended my second year of summer training for PAVE (Peers Against ViolencE, REACH’s peer leadership program for teen dating violence prevention), and although most of the activities in both years were the same, the training seemed to be very different. During my first year, the majority of the PAVE leaders and officers all happened to be in the same grade which meant for the most part we all already knew each other also the group was very open and talkative. This year however it took a little more time to really get everyone into it. Through different activities, games, and scenarios all of us built a stronger group connection and it was a noticeable improvement. In the beginning we played a teamwork game and it was a challenge. The frustration was felt by everyone but as the week went on and we spent more time getting to know each other better we learned a lot about the strengths and weaknesses we had individually and as a group. With that knowledge we grew stronger as a group.
Summer training is not just a way to learn about what we do as PAVE peer leaders or learn about dating violence, it is a way that we learn about each other and get an idea of how the upcoming school year will go. It is also important because peer leaders get to experience the feeling of presenting and educating on the dating violence topic. I believe that the summer training we do is extremely beneficial and makes the year easier and one’s job as a leader easier. Summer training is four days for four hours each day and I know that does not seem like much time but I can tell you from my own personal experiences and from what I witness with new leaders that in those sixteen hours you learn if not all you need to know to help others learn, some of the information you will need.
For example a new leader and myself recently led a workshop for middle school kids who were part of the Waltham Youth Police Academy. It was her first time really presenting other than in summer training and she seemed a little nervous but once she started she did great! Every explanation or scenario was run with accurate information and great confidence, I believe that she was able to present so well because of how successful summer training was. During that workshop the kids’ attention was on us, they were very interested and eager to learn which is not what either of us expected going into this especially because of how young they were. But they showed true maturity and by the end seemed to really understand a lot about dating violence and relationships as well. I think that the most useful part of the workshops we run is the video we usually play at the end. It really portrays the definition of dating violence we use at PAVE, it contains every aspect we teach except for one which is how gender is not a factor when it comes to dating violence but before the video we let the audience know that it only portrays male abusers and remind them [abuse] is not gender specific.
I cannot wait for this upcoming school year; I predict great things and lots of fun maybe we might even remake that video so it perfectly describes our definition…
In addition to our Prevention activities with teens, REACH also offers direct services through both our Community Advocacy and Child and Adolescent Therapy program. If you are concerned about a teen in your life, call our hotline at 1-800-899-4000.