Some Fairfield County teenagers will have an opportunity to identify, analyze and weigh in on public policy issues relevant to teen dating violence, thanks to a grant awarded to the Domestic Violence Crisis Center by the Perrin Family Foundation.
The $20,000 grant, awarded in May, will help the DVCC take its Teen PeaceWorks Project a step forward by providing teens in the PeaceWorks groups with guidance, support and resources for analyzing and initiating ideas for systemic reform around teen dating violence, stalking, technology and other issues.
"This prong of our Teen PeaceWorks project will be academic, experiential and, we hope, ultimately lead to action," DVCC Executive Director Rachelle Kucera Mehra said. "Young people have few opportunities to examine the systems and policies that determine their access to resources and information; we will seek to assist them in reaching a comprehensive recognition of how our intervention work must link directly to systems change, why it is so challenging to move policy forward in any arena, and strategies to do so that can be put into practice."
DVCC Teen PeaceWorks are student-led groups based in schools that conduct awareness projects and educational programs about intimate partner violence and maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships within their schools and communities.
Active groups this year included Westhill High School, Stamford Academy and Turn of River Middle School in Stamford, Briggs High School in Norwalk and the high schools in Darien, Wilton and Weston. Norwalk High School is in the process of forming a TPW group. According to Kucera Mehra, an important part of the new initiative for TPW members will be to continue to plan joint meetings and expand collaboration between the various clubs in order to share information, resources, ideas, challenges and successes.
"It is critical that club members understand the issues in a broader context, and gaining an understanding across communities is a start," she said. "We will continue to work on shared communication between clubs and club members; their knowledge of and entrenchment in new media is essential to these efforts."
The Teen PeaceWorks Public Policy project is in the planning stages, with substantive work expected to start later this summer and early fall. Andrea Dahms, DVCC's Public Policy Director, will work together with DVCC PeaceWorks educators and Teen PeaceWorks leaders to begin identifying the public policy and legislative issues upon which to focus and then will assist them in developing skills and strategies to move forward.
PeaceWorks, an educational project of the Domestic Violence Crisis Center, provides programs for pre-kindergarten to 12th grade youth to help them learn how to solve conflicts peacefully and maintain healthy interpersonal relationships. In fiscal year 2010 - 2011 PeaceWorks staff provided school and afterschool programs for 21,771 students and provided educational seminars and awareness projects for 3,098 adults throughout the communities of Stamford, Norwalk, Westport, Darien, New Canaan, Wilton and Weston. The Domestic Violence Crisis Center offers confidential services at no charge to victims of domestic violence that include court and legal services, group and individual counseling, temporary shelter, housing services, children's services, medical advocacy, professional adult trainings, multilingual services and a 24-hour hotline (1-888-774-2900). For more information visit www.dvccct.org.
The Perrin Family Foundation, founded in 1994, is committed to providing equal opportunities for children and young adults to lead safe, productive and creative lives. The Foundation believes that "Youth Voice" is an essential component in helping to build healthy communities. The Perrin Family Foundation funds youth leadership skill development programs in Fairfield County as well as youth led social change programs throughout the state in underserved communities. For more information, visit www.perrinfamilyfoundation.org.