Former intern Elena shared thoughts on her time with us in this guest blog.
During my internship, I assisted Sojourner’s Community Education Program as they led weekly sessions of their youth violence prevention education, SafeU. Being able to work with youth and guide them through experiential learning activities was helpful both for my own knowledge and for building a sense of community and shared purpose. To be able to help them learn about values, what healthy/unhealthy relationships look like, personal boundaries, consent, and so much more really gave me a sense of why this work is so important.
One activity we do early on in the workshop involves the students walking around to different posters and brainstorming answers to questions like “What could you do if a friend was in an unhealthy relationship?” and “What does a healthy relationship look like?” I enjoyed guiding them through their thought process and helping to dispel myths about how one might approach a friend in need. The kids understanding grew even in the few hours we were with them and knowing they can take this greater knowledge with them and apply it for the rest of their lives was incredibly impactful. It was also great to get feedback from the adult chaperones that they now feel more confident approaching these topics with their students in the future.
The opportunity to be hands on with our students, lead activities and think critically about real life issues was one of my favorite parts of interning at Sojourner. Sojourner recognizes that by providing youth with opportunities to develop self-awareness, communication and boundary setting skills and an understanding of their rights and responsibilities in dating relationships they can prevent future abusers and victims. It is also important that, if necessary, the youth we work with know how to access needed resources and approach friends or family in an impactful and safe way. Youth violence prevention education contributes to both the immediate well-being of our students and to the future safety of all our communities!