Anti-violence walk set for Sunday

Teen education group targets prevention, invites community to join its fight

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There is no form in which violence is OK.

Ever.

That's one of the messages teens will be trying to communicate Sunday when they lead a violence awareness walk from Craig City Park to the Moffat County Courthouse.

The walk begins at 2 p.m. Sunday, and the community is invited to participate.

In 2003, Craig police officers responded to 188 calls for assault or intimidation.

Advocates-Crisis Support Services answered more than 450 calls for help in domestic violence and sexual assault cases.

Making people aware of violence and its impact is the focus of Advocates' teen group Preventing Relationship Violence through Educating and Nurturing Teens. PReVENT is a group of teen workers and advisers that operates under the supervision of the Advocates-Crisis Support Services in Craig.

The program was started in 1994 as a way for young people to satisfy community service requirements from court decisions.

It grew into an extracurricular volunteer activity when participants took it upon themselves to educate peers on the effects of violence and how to prevent it.

"We thought we should do a little more and thought it would be nice to get the public more involved," former PReVENT member Taunna Hummel said.

Hummel is responsible for starting the violence awareness walk four years ago and will be a keynote speaker at this year's event.

"We want to get as many people as we can involved to let people know that violence exists, and that it's not OK," Hummel said.

Other speakers include Craig Police Department Sgt. Bill Leonard and PReVENT members who will be reading poems.

"Because the walk is associated with youth, it makes sense to have youth speakers," Advocates Director Pat Tessmer said.

Buttons and purple carnations will be handed out to people participating in the walk, and PReVENT members will carry signs with anti-violence messages on them. Those who do not want to walk are encouraged to meet at the courthouse to show support for those who do.

The PReVENT group has about eight active members. They are looking for more members and hope the walk will increase their visibility. Members make presentations to high school students on sexual harassment, date rape and violence among teens. They also visit middle school students with tips on preventing violence. All work done by the group is voluntary.

Students in the PReVENT group choose the presentation topics, spend hours training, create the presentations and take time from school to make those presentations.

"This group of young people gives me hope for the future," Advocates Youth Services Coordinator Karen Aragon said.

After presentations, students talk to members of the PReVENT team and share their responses.

"I think kids respond a lot better to young people," Aragon said.

"Youth involved in youth programs has always been our philosophy," Tessmer said.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210 or at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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