Seventh- through 12th-grade students encouraged to join YouthRise Teen Board of Directors

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    By John Finefrock
    and Cheryl Bowdridge
    Rise Above Violence 

    Rise Above Violence’s youth advocates focus on helping all students realize that they deserve to have healthy relationships — by teaching them how to focus on respect and learning to set boundaries for themselves. 

     YouthRise, an elective formerly offered at the high school — which is now a club that meets outside of school on Fridays — helps young people understand that they have a responsibility to teach their peers and raise awareness about dating abuse, bullying, Internet safety, self-care and respect for others.

    Here are some of the things that parents have told us about how Rise’s youth programming provided meaningful learning for their children:

    “Her choice in boyfriends between her eighth-grade year and now are night and day and I attribute that to YouthRise.”

    “My daughter helped two friends in unhealthy relationships; she was able to point out warning signs and because they had your programming, the other girls recognized the problems when it was brought to their attention.”

    “My daughter is in college and she always goes to parties in groups; one person is always sober and makes sure the others all get home safe.”

    “My daughter has been in YouthRise since her freshman year. It’s not by accident.”

    Currently, YouthRise is being offered as a club outside of school, which meets on Fridays at 2 p.m. at the Ross Aragon Community Center and is open to all seventh- through 12th-grade students in Pagosa Springs free of charge. Virtual options are also available.

     These students record TikTok and YouTube videos to promote healthy relationships, plan community events and awareness campaigns, and here’s what they’re saying about the program:

    “I look forward to Youth Rise every week. It has opened my life up to new people, experiences and meaning. I don’t know what I’d do without it,” said Bella. 

    “I look forward to the Fridays because of these meetings,” said Charlie.

    “My friend told me to come and now I really like it,” said Isaiah.

    “As a young girl, I always wanted to help my community. Youth Rise is inspiring and helping make the world a little bit better,” said Mo.

    “To me, Youth Rise means to have a group of friends that also want to make a change in our community for the best. We learn about healthy relationships and communication skills, etc. I look forward to every Friday,” said Jazmin.

    For more information about YouthRise programs, which include free lessons around healthy relationships, bullying prevention and Internet safety plus the weekly Teen Board of Directors meeting, contact Cheryl Bowdridge at cheryl@riseaboveviolence.org or 946-2576, 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.