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Mentors in Violence Training held Dec. 6 in Sechelt, BC

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I was delighted to receive one-day training in Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) on Dec. 6, 2016 in Sechelt, BC. Roughly a dozen of us attended, including local teachers and providers of an after-school teen drop-in program. The event’s co-facilitators were Wayne Spychka, my boss as an SCCSS gender violence prevention worker, and Keely Halward, Wayne’s boss. Both are experienced MVP mentors and employees in Together Against Violence at the Sunshine Coast Community Services Society (SCCSS).

In male-only and female-only groups, we did exercises that identify gender stereotypes and practised facilitating and observing scenarios portraying inappropriate sexual behaviour. The MVP process reinforces a stance of Be More Than a Bystander: if you witness anything sexually inappropriate occurring between others, doing nothing is not an option. It is important for youths to either notify an adult or authorities and/or intervene, if they can do this safely.

MVP Strategies was developed in the early 1990s in Boston, MA, based on a peer leadership model using trained student leaders. It strives to empower those who might otherwise be silent observers to situations of violence unfolding around them. The primary goals of MVP are to

  1. Increase awareness of verbal/emotional/psychological and sexual abuse.
  2. Challenges messages within a social setting about gender/sex/relationship violence.
  3. Inspire leadership by empowering participants with options to effect change in social norms.

For more details read my MVP training Dec 2016 Coast Reporter.

An honour to host and organize Canada’s first Mentors in Violence Prevention program

JR LaRose with kids low res

Former BC Lions player J.R. LaRose (back row, centre) joins grade 10 and 11 students at Mentors in Violence Prevention event in Sechelt, BC

I was honoured to organize and host Canada’s first Mentors in Violence Prevention program in Sechelt, BC on May 5. Here’s a story that I wrote for the local media:

 

A former B.C. Lions player, open discussions and hands-on scenarios recently helped about 40 local high school students learn what words and actions can lead to violence against women.

 

Sunshine Coast Community Services Society (SCCSS), in collaboration with School District No. 46, hosted a Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Student Summit May 5 at Seaside Centre in Sechelt. Grade 10 and 11 students from Chatelech, Elphinstone and Pender Harbour Secondary School, Sunshine Coast Alternative School and the Aboriginal Program attended, along with about 20 school administrators, SCCSS staff, and RCMP members trained in MVP strategies.

 

“I’m not OK with just standing by and being silent when someone is being abused,” keynote speaker J. R. LaRose, a former BC Lions and spokesperson for Be More Than a Bystander, told the group. “It’s time we speak up and be a voice for those that have been hurt and abused. Speak up and break the silence.”

 

This event marked the first time in Canada that high school youth have participated in an MVP program. Developed in the early 1990s in Boston, MA, this peer leadership model, using trained student leaders, strives to empower those who might otherwise be silent observers to situations where bullying and violence is unfolding.

 

“We are so proud of the youth stepping up as leaders and change-makers at the MVP Student Summit,” said Keely Halward, director of SCCSS’s Together Against Violence Services. “Gender-based violence is not just a statistic, but the reality for hundreds of women and girls on the Sunshine Coast. Almost half of our Police Based Victim Services files relate to domestic violence, and research tells us that most domestic violence goes unreported.”

 

In scenarios that ranged from verbal abuse to sexual harassment, and from dating violence to sexual consent, students learned practical ways to communicate that violence and abuse are not acceptable. They discussed related issues as a whole group, and in male-only, female-only and fluid-gender groups.

 

The ongoing MVP initiative is possible thanks to funders including the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Department of Justice Canada, RCMP National Crime Prevention Initiative, the Sechelt Indian Government District and donors. For more information about this initiative and to learn about services addressing gender violence, please go to the Sunshine Coast Community Services website at www.sccss.ca or contact Heather Conn at hconn@sccss.ca.

To see story and photo in The Local, click this link: Tackling violence against women.