Ella Baker, an unsung hero of the Civil Rights movement, once said, “The older I get the better I know that the secret of my going on is when the reins are in the hands of the young, who dare to run against the storm.” As a sexual violence prevention educator and youth co-conspirator, I feel the wisdom in these words every time I have the opportunity to witness young people working toward justice and asking for what they need. In fact, youth have been at the forefront of most of the major social movements of the past century.
In the summer of 2015, Anaja McClinton and Erin Thompson approached the Center for support around creating a sexual violence prevention workshop for her friends and peers at school. Anaja knew young folks who had been directly impacted and she felt like the issue sexual violence was not being addressed at school. When we met with Anaja and Erin, it was clear that they were fired up and ready. They wanted to see change for the benefit of their friends, fellow students, and future students. And they were ready to work for it. Without any hesitation, they approached their parents and caregivers, asking them to support their efforts, and they directly communicated their desires and needs with the principal at their school.
By the end of the fall semester, Anaja and Erin had the full support of their principal. Moreover, they requested that the district consider sexual violence prevention programming at both of the high schools in Orange County Schools.
Since January, the Center has held several programs for students at Cedar Ridge High School and continues to work with the Orange County School District to integrate further sexual violence prevention programming.
We could not have done this without the leadership of young students like Anaja and Erin. We proudly acknowledge their contribution to our community’s efforts to create a world free of sexual violence by presenting them with the 2016 Teal Ribbon Award.
Dolores Chandler is our Prevention Coordinator. As a member of the Community Education team, they coordinate our Start Strong program, working to prevent peer-to-peer perpetration of violence among adolescents.