Within my host organization (The Latin American Youth Center- LAYC) we have the Healthy Relationships Program. Within it we seek to educate and prevent gender-based violence among youth through the modality called “Real Talk”. We meet once a week with around 7 young women between 14 and 19 years old.
During the last month we discussed how social media reinforces the stereotypes about men and women. Thus, the participants were asked about what they wanted to do as a final project. They concluded that the messages they learned while participating in group activities and discussions were really important and other youth should be aware of them. That’s how they came up with the idea of making bracelets and attaching each bracelet with a message related to gender-based violence, specifically the topic of sexual violence, as April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Some of the messages were: “Enough is enough”, “Alcohol does not cause rape, rapists cause rape”, “”the problem is that ending sexual violence really depends on people deciding not to commit it anymore, not people learning to protect themselves”, “A recent study of the effects of teen dating violence on 9th through 12th grade females found 1 in 5 experienced physical or dating sexual violence”.
During the activity it was really amazing to see all the young women empowered by the topic, the activity and spreading the word with other male and female youth and staff within the LAYC. It was even better to witness their growth from the time when they started in the group to its final activity. To have the opportunity to witness the group’s impact on them, this is when I say, I love what I do!!