Grant to be used for education

Money will fund teen group's efforts to prevent domestic violence, sexual assault

Advocates-Crisis Support Services received an $8,000 grant to continue funding one of the agency's sexual assault prevention programs.

Advocates received the money from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to help pay for costs of the PReVENT program.

The agency distributed almost $240,000 in federal funds to 17 Colorado counties.

The local allocation will go toward paying for partial salary costs of PReVENT coordinator, Karen Aragon.

"We've been lucky," Aragon said. "We've received funding for the position every year we've asked for it."

PReVENT is a small organization of high school students who present anti-sexual abuse and anti-rape messages and counseling for their peers.

Advocates, a private, nonprofit group, has overseen PReVENT for the last 10 years. Aragon has worked in the position for six years.

Before the group gained funding for the position a couple years ago, Aragon and others volunteered to keep PReVENT going, she said.

PReVENT presentations reach about 600 people, Aragon said.

Student PReVENT representative Conner Walton said the anti-sexual abuse message has helped some of his peers to seek help.

"It's cool because people know they can come and talk to us," he said. "Some (students) really do need advice. It's a nice thing for students to know we are there for them."

Twelve students are currently in the PReVENT program. Group members give presentations at Moffat County Schools and sponsor an anti-violence march in the spring.

PReVENT members offer students information on dating violence and reporting sexual

abuse claims.

Feedback from the group's efforts is increasing, Aragon said.

Surveys are often circulated after the PReVENT presentations to gather student input.

"I know that the number of kids who have approached the PReVENT students is increasing," she said. "It's overwhelming the feedback we get. By far, it's more positive than negative."

Even without the allocated grant money to supplement salary costs, Aragon said she'd probably still volunteer to keep it going.

"Even if we can help one person getting the information when they need it, then it's worth it," she said. "That's what makes every bit of what we do worthwhile."

Aragon said Advocates put in the grant request of $9,000, but received $1,000 less than expected.

Advocates receives funding from other federal sources, the state and private foundations. The group puts on a yearly fund-raising event.

It has helped 133 new clients of domestic abuse and sexual assault in Moffat County since the beginning of the year. Advocates served 492 new clients last year.

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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