Rise Above Violence celebrates 25 years in Pagosa

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    By John Finefrock
    Rise Above Violence

    As Rise Above Violence celebrates its 25th year serving Pagosa Springs, we’re asking a lofty question: How do we end domestic violence and sexual assault in Pagosa in the next 25 years?

    “It is overwhelming to think about how this can end in 25 years,” said Executive Director Carmen Hubbs on Rise’s quarterly “Coffee Talk” livestream. “And nonetheless — if it does, if it doesn’t — we’re working towards it.”

    She continued, “We recognized that it can’t be the nine advocates that are working in the office, it has to be this community. And we know you’re ready, we know you’re primed. And we’re just going to give you the tools. We’re going to give you very specific tools, very specific action steps, that you can take as an individual that everyone can do. Everybody is part of this in just being a community member.”

    The action step for this week: Acknowledge that domestic violence and sexual assault is a problem in our community. Rise served just under 400 victims of relationship violence in Pagosa Springs last year.

    We believe one strategy in combating this problem is working with the young people of Pagosa Springs. Rise’s youth advocates are available to teach free lessons around healthy relationships, Internet safety and bullying prevention to third- through 12th-grade students in Pagosa Springs. Additionally, the YouthRise Teen Board of Directors meets outside of school — both virtually and in person on Fridays — and is open to all seventh- through 12th-grade students who wish to work toward ending relationship abuse and violence in our community.

    “We’re really focusing on spreading the word about sexual assault and those red flags in relationships that a lot of people don’t know about,” said Kiera, a senior in high school and a member of the YouthRise Teen Board of Directors.

    In February, YouthRise’s Teen Board of Directors will be creating social media, print and community awareness campaigns for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Look to The Pagosa Springs SUN and the Rise Above Violence social media channels to follow along and support these youth.

    For more information about YouthRise programs, offered at no cost, contact Cheryl Bowdridge at cheryl@riseaboveviolence or 946-5276; or John Finefrock at john@riseaboveviolence.org or 403-5461.

    Rise Above Violence is a nonprofit organization which promotes the belief that all people have the right to live free from violence. Rise provides 24-hour support and advocacy services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other forms of violence. All programs and services are free and confidential. Visit riseaboveviolence.org for more information or call the 24-hour hotline at 264-9075 to talk to an advocate today.