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Parent Leadership Project a positive addition to community

In May, 2010, a group of parents in Pagosa Springs met to learn about a new parent leadership program called, “See It. Stop It. (SISI) Parent Leaders Ending Violence in our Lives and Community.”

From the first meeting until now, a dynamic mix of parents have continued to meet to share parental struggles, encourage one another and further the message that violence in any form is not acceptable.

SISI is a primary prevention campaign focused on developing social change strategies that recognize the role of whole communities in stopping a culture of violence. Further, we emphasize developing strategies that address the critical impact of interdependent relationships between individuals, social/intimate networks, community and culture and institutions to stop violence.

For this reason SISI projects are organized to feature the leadership of parents, friends and family members within each community. Organizing parents as leaders has proved an effective means of breaking the silence and isolation that parents experience, addressing the numerous institutionalized struggles that parents face and giving voice to the critical ways that parents’ leadership in families and in the community impact efforts to stop violence.

While mainstream domestic/sexual violence agencies provide “prevention” training in schools to children and youth (reflecting the long standing position of “the Movement” that ending violence begins and ends with educating children and youth), See It. Stop It. works from the position that it is the responsibility of parents and adults to keep kids safe and stop violence perpetrated against children and youth by adults.

The six-week Parent Leadership Project training was facilitated by Pam Willhoite from the Violence Prevention Coalition of Southwest Colorado and co-sponsored by Archuleta County Victim Assistance Program. SISI is a grassroots violence prevention campaign of the VPC which serves the 6th Judicial District. There are currently four peer leadership projects in the 6th Judicial District. The projects have been supported by Grant No. 2008-WR-AX-0024 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. These projects currently include Community Rising Project (for people with disabilities and caregivers), Pagosa Springs Parent Leadership Project, Native Lands Parent Leadership Project and Native Lands Tri-ethnic Youth Leadership Project.

As a first project that followed our training, and in order to raise awareness of SISI, an art contest was made available to all ages in our community. The concept for this contest was to give everyone the opportunity to create a logo that would be chosen as a type of social “branding” that would depict violence-free zones and people. SISI members are now in the process of taking Kelsie Hagman’s winning entry and creating a “mock up” that can be easily displayed on various forms of materials, stickers, T-shirts, etc. The winning entry and articles that preceded this campaign can be viewed on the Parent Leadership Project’s Web page at seeitstopit.pagosaview.com

Always fun and engaging, and not without laughter and often tears (no one ever said raising children was easy), SISI meetings occur on the first and third Wednesdays of every month from noon to 2 p.m. at the Pagosa Springs Youth Center on Hermosa Street.

As the author of this article, I personally would like to recognize all the dedicated parents and leaders whom I have had the pleasure of working with during the past eight months. If not for the Parent Leadership Project, I would never have been so fortunate as to get to know these individuals on a personal level, and witness their love and passion for helping parents and children. They are: Lily Mondragon-Tarbett, with San Juan Basin Health Department and The Nurturing Parenting Program; John Vick, with Archuleta County Department of Human Services and the Fatherhood Initiative; Pam Willhoite, Violence Prevention of Southwest Colorado; Hope Walker, Alateen leader and Wolf Creek Racing Team; Beth Rivas, Archuleta County Victim Assistance Program Advocate and school bus driver; Darcy Downing, Girl Scout Leader and writer extraordinaire; Paul Ratcliff, Pagosa Recovery Center and Web master; Susie Mullen, AXIS Health System; and so many others who work countless hours in raising awareness of how we view all parents and children, and continuously advocate on behalf of all people in our community who are affected by violence.

For more information on Parent Leadership Project meetings and the See It. Stop It. campaign, visit seeitstopit.pagosaview.com. For information on youth violence prevention education classes, call Liz at 799-2187, e-mail pagosaviolenceprevention@yahoo.com and go to lizbook.pagosaview.com for weekly blogs on youth activities. ACVAP also has a highly informative website at acvap.org.

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