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 news stories that caught our eye this week:

Check out this powerful PSA on teen dating violence. It was made by a group of middle school girls from East Texas. Jezebel interviews them about this, their other activism, and their dreams for the future.

 

Mass incarceration in the US is disturbing for many reasons, but a new book focuses specifically on the negative impact of parental imprisonment on children. The authors point out that even if we can change current practices there is already a “lost generation of kids” deprived of their parents, which is exacerbating the already deep race and class differences in America.

Beloved icon Leonard Nimoy passed away today. Though most people knew him only as Spock, he was a bold, multi-talented artist and activist. Bustle pays tribute to his commitment to feminism throughout his career.