On July 26, a small but engaged contingent from REACH and the Waltham High School (WHS) PAVE Peer Leaders attended the 9th annual Start Strong Break Up Summit. Held at Simmons College, this event was hosted by Start Strong, a peer leadership group that serves Boston Public Schools through the Boston Public Health Commission. WHS PAVE and REACH have attended the event in past years and were excited to do so again. This year the summit focused on the role of social media and consent in breakups.
The day began with a lively skit about gender roles, social media use, infidelity, and communication. Afterwards we were split into smaller groups to deeply analyze how breakups can be healthy and unhealthy. We categorized different types of relationships along a spectrum of formal to informal. The dialogue around where hooking up, “talking,” and friends with benefits fell along that spectrum could have continued for hours.
Next we simulated a court case between two members of an unhealthy relationship. We were divided into groups that had to argue why the other person was at fault. We were only given one perspective and had to look solely through their lens before being allowed to see the relationship through the other person’s eyes. This activity helped highlight the importance of mutual understanding, communication, and accountability, as well as the awareness that trauma (and resulting coping strategies) can manifest in many different ways.
The main event took place after lunch. We had the honor of watching the premiere of season two of The Halls, a video series developed by Start Strong and the Boston Public Health Commission as an educational tool to help start conversations around healthy and unhealthy relationships. During the panel discussion youth asked complex questions about filming trauma and empowering youth.
This incredible event was led by teens, for teens. The Start Strong Peer Leaders were the hosts, performers, and facilitators. Seeing other youth who do similar things to the WHS PAVE Peer Leaders helped reinforce the importance of youth leadership in the field of violence prevention. We left the day armed with new knowledge to share with our peers and even some cool new swag to help spread the word!