From NOPE to YAAAS!

2016 has been rough. So when the calendar reminded me that I had to work on a Saturday, I wasn’t too psyched. It had been a long week, which was attached to a long month, at the end of an even longer year. But because of our partnership with Goodwill for our Refuse To Abuse 5k, I was scheduled to  give a talk at Goodwill’s Youth Aerospace Program about healthy relationships. So, even though my vibe was NOPE, that’s how I found myself driving up to Marysville on a Saturday at 7am.

As soon as I got there, I knew I was going to leave happier than I started. The room was full of young people and their parents, all of whom had come together to talk about healthy relationships and their hopes for the future. So that’s what we did.

We did In Their Shoes: Classroom Edition. I encouraged the parents to let the youth lead, and they did (even though it was sometimes hard). It was remarkable to watch the youth in the room take charge, make decisions, and go boldly forward. Each group walked through the story of one of six characters who experience unhealthy and violent relationships. And then we talked about it.

yaaass-horseYouth shared their perspectives and their desire to create new ways of doing things. Their parents listened and then shared their hopes and fears about letting go and standing beside their beloved teenagers as they enter into their first relationships. We talked about the things to look out for and the things to celebrate. And then we reminded each other to continue to ask questions, listen up, and stay connected no matter what.

There was so much love in the room that Saturday afternoon, my NOPE attitude turned into YAAAS! And as I look forward to 2017, I am heartened that although there is still a whole lot to feel down about, talking with young people about their relationships will always be a YAAAS!

News you can relate to

Some stories that caught our eye this week:

How Men Can Help End Domestic Violence “It’s also our responsibility to talk about this issue and teach others what a healthy relationship looks like. It doesn’t matter how you start that conversation. What’s important is having the courage to do it.”

Argentina: hundreds of thousands of women set to protest against violence “This violence is trying to teach us a lesson, it wants to put us back in a traditional role into which we don’t fit any more,” says Cantabria. “It’s not a specific blow by a specific man against one woman in particular, it’s a message to all women to return to our stereotypical roles.”

Domestic Violence Shelters Are Turning Away LGBTQ Victims “Transgender women had a particularly tough time finding services that wouldn’t slam the door in their faces, but gay, bisexual, and transgender men also reported that domestic violence shelters for men rarely even exist.”

My plan for healthy relationships

This week we’re sharing a guest column from Henson Burk Fawcett that was also recently published in Sound Publishing community newspapers.

I am a six-grade Rainier Valley Little League baseball player and an aspiring sports journalist. I am interested in how sports shape people’s lives.

Kids look up to athletes. It’s not news. Everyone knows kids have idolized sports figures for generations. We memorize stats, and trade cards. Kids copy elite athletes. We practice their game day rituals—like pre-game dances, warm up traditions, a certain swing—just to be like the people we adore.

So what happens when athletes commit domestic violence? Does it tell a kid that hurting someone close to you is no big deal? Even okay?

Major League Baseball noticed that the sports world is failing to send the message to athletes and fans that family violence is unacceptable, and they want to do better. The MLB has established a new rule that says if you hurt your girlfriend, partner, or child, it will hurt your career. Recently, a MLB player was suspended for 30 games. It’s a big penalty, taking away 1/5 of a season. And it sends a big message to the players and to the kids too.

Watching sports the past couple years has shown us that being good at your relationships takes as much practice as being good at your game. When the MLB refuses to let any excuses go by, they give all of us a reason to start practicing to do our best on and off the field.

This year for my Bar Mitzvah project, I am talking to over 300 youth about healthy relationships. I am also asking kids to take a stand for positive relationships by running the Goodwill Refuse to Abuse 5K inside Safeco Field. It is a one-of-a-kind 5K through the ball park. I hope you join me at the 5K!

To find the domestic violence program in your community, visit wscadv.org or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).

To raise money and awareness for domestic violence prevention, register today for the Goodwill Refuse To Abuse® 5K at Safeco Field at refusetoabuse5k.org.