By Johnette Walser
Member, YWCA Greensboro Board of Directors
Recent domestic violence-related deaths in Greensboro have highlighted a need for community discussion about what exactly can be done to prevent domestic violence. How can we stand up for victims? How can we hold our officials and authorities accountable for not charging or holding in jail offenders and those who violate restraining orders?
Another question looms as well: what can we teach our children that will either prevent them from being victims or prevent them from being offenders?
A YWCA Greensboro after-school program hopes to be part of the answer. YWORLD seeks to educate youth about bullying, violence, self-love, self-esteem, goal setting, communication skills (both verbal and non-verbal), and positive interpersonal relationships.
YWORLD Director Niki Black-Cheek strongly believes that, by teaching our children respect for self and others, future generations can prevent violence and avoid being victimized. Niki focuses learning on developing positive character traits, such as courage, responsibility, integrity, kindness, and respect.
Courage, she says, is vital to eliminating violence amongst youth – courage to stand up for others, to choose friends who are respectful and non-violent, and to hold onto positive aspirations.
The ability for youth to see themselves in a positive way directly relate to their resiliency, their ability to advocate for themselves, and their future success. Niki focuses on developing her students’ positive self-concept, or as she says, “self-love.” She does this through various activities in which she highlights diversity, different communication styles, and forms of giftedness not related to academic achievement, such as music, art, athletics, and social skills. Niki encourages every student to see themselves and others as being “distinctly beautiful” because of this diversity. She encourages parents to highlight the students’ positive traits as well.
In highlighting diversity and promoting and encouraging self-love, Niki hopes she is reducing each YWORLD participant’s chances of being an offender or a victim of bullying as well as their chances of growing up to be an adult perpetrator or victim of domestic violence. Her work is an important piece of the larger community puzzle – a part of the answer to how we, as a community, can address domestic violence.
Johnette Walser, a social worker from North Carolina, serves on the YWCA Greensboro’s Board of Directors. She has several years of experience working with children, families, and vulnerable populations and dedicates her time to advocating for others.
This post is part of the YWCA Week Without Violence™ 2013 Blog Carnival. We invite you to join the dialogue! Post your comment below, share your story and follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #ywcaWWV.