The cloudy, drizzly day we woke up to on Saturday May 6 did not deter some 600 volunteers and participants in the Steppin’ Up to End Violence Walk and Fun Run and who collectively raised over $90,000 (with more to come) in support of Turning Points Network and its services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence throughout Sullivan County.
About half of TPN’s annual fundraising of $200,000+ supports the education programs brought by TPN to Sullivan County Schools that raise awareness of bullying and work to prevent violence beginning with Hands are Not for Hitting for the youngest students, progressing to Body Safety and Healthy Dating Relationships. These interactive programs help students of all ages understand what constitutes dating violence, stalking, sexual harassment and sexual assault through age-appropriate messages.
The proceeds from Steppin’ Up enable TPN to reach more than 2,500 local students each year with programs like this spring’s theme of Partnerships! Using No-No the Seal, TPN Educators have been teaching area elementary school students about the four Body Safety rules: My body belongs to me; Touches to the private areas of my body are only to keep me clean and healthy; Touches to the private areas of my body are never a secret; If I get warning feelings, am hurt or confused, I can talk to a grownup I trust.
TPN educators have also partnered with Granite State Independent Living’s IMPACCT program coordinator to provide Healthy Relationship education to local teens in an alternate learning environment. In collaboration with the Child Advocacy Center, TPN has provided education to area Headstart students, parents and faculty. At Newport Middle High School, an information table was set up for the Transitional Resource Fair for students, faculty and parents of the Special Education program. The Education Coordinator and our Education VISTA, along with many other agencies and support professionals provided self-esteem related activities and crafts for middle school aged girls at the You’re Amazing Self-Esteem Project.
One high school student who has attended both public and private high schools expressed appreciation for the violence-prevention education received in public school and shocked amazement at the lack of it in private school. “Dating violence and sexual violence is prevalent on my private school campus, as it is on every campus,” this student shared. “However, the difference between a school which provides education and one that does not, is that students know when something is wrong. Students without this education don’t know the full emotional or legal extent of how their actions hurt others, and students who are being hurt don’t recognize what is happening to them until it is too late. Not providing this education is not only a disservice to students, but it changes the entire lives of students for the worse.”
This young adult’s observation only underscores the need for healthy relationships habits to be instilled early, “especially in high school where everything is new and no one really knows what to expect.”
OUR TURN is a public service series made available by Turning Points Network in celebration of its 40th anniversary of providing violence-prevention education programs in our schools, services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and helping people move from the darkness of abuse toward the light of respect, healing and hope. For information contact 1.800.639.3130 or www.turningpointsnetwork.org or find us on Facebook.