Youth are Powerful Agents for Change

This week we are sharing an article from the Battered Women’s Support Services Society. In the article, BWSS tell us about Create Your Own, their youth-led initiative that aspires to educate and inspire youth in our community. Combining the Battered Women’s Support Services YOUth Dating Violence curriculum with songwriting, recording, branding and videography, Create Your Own hopes to plant seeds of compassion and empowerment while building skills and developing creative expression.

Boys Bring their Voice to the Prevention of Violence Against Women

First stage gender violence prevention is emerging as an important focus of community and government with engaging boys and men awareness raising campaigns, bystander intervention and healthy relationship workshops leading the way. Our own Youth Ending Violence takes a unique “peer to peer” approach through training young women and young men to deliver dating violence prevention workshops.

Recently, we embarked on a wonderful journey when we joined St. George School for Boys for a project called Create Your Own, led by Amalia Nickel  and funded by Vancouver Foundation and My Sister’s Closet (a social enterprise of Battered Women’s Support Services).

CreateYourOwn2The project centred around mentoring to engage the young men from St. George’s School for Boys Film and Television Production class to share an important message of gender violence prevention with each other. Through creating a safe space the students shared their personal opinions, ideas and experiences around gender violence and creatively expressed their own feelings through artistic mentorship. The bold intention included supporting youth to build skills to present their creative endeavors with confidence while mentoring youth through all the logistical steps of planning and production, giving guidance as necessary, but listening carefully to the youth, so that essentially it is their vision that we facilitate.

1800397_10151904481206428_340902228_nThe class was a combination of grade 11 and grade 12 students  and over three months we worked closely with the students  through individual and group work that included media literacy, exploration of gender role socialization, and dynamics of dating violence and sexual harassment. The sessions were powerful and the conversations were transformational. The boys examined gender socialization, patriarchal cultural underpinnings and other root causes and identified the ways that these social and systemic structures helped turn out men and boys to chose violence (against women and against each other), for boys and men to turn to unhealthy behaviours to cope with the challenges of life. They were attuned in the ways that the construction of masculinity and gender tells boys and men to bury feelings, to limit choices in careers, expressions, and relationships. And the boys shared their own personal experiences where they witnessed an adult man abuse an adult woman and they knew of girls who had experienced sexual and/or dating violence.

Incorporating prevention work with men and boys is an essential piece towards creating a safer, more equitable and violence free world for women and girls. One of the core challenges is convincing men and boys that the struggle for gender equality has a net benefit for men as well. The project concluded with the boys creating a video reflecting their understandings of the impact of witnessing violence has on children.

Here is their video:

 

Battered Women’s Support Services thanks St. George’s School for Boys, Amalia Judith Nickel, Trevor Mills, Kent Stepheny, Claire Mortifee, Quentin Barr, Zoe Peled, Selena Lohan, Artem Fomitchev, Patriz Fomitchev, Tim Varro, Tiffany Jaeger, Rona Amiri, Rob G., and Marcel Daly.

 


This article was originally posted on the Battered Women’s Support Services’ Ending Violence Blog on April 16, 2015.

 

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