DELTA: Stopping violence before it starts

AWARE's domestic violence prevention program offers more for community youth

Posted: Sunday, November 15, 2009

A local women shelter's domestic violence prevention program is making strides with programs for local youth, coordinators say.

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Courtesy Of Candice Bressler
Courtesy Of Candice Bressler

In its fifth year, Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancements and Leadership Through Alliances (DELTA) has started its implementation and evaluation phase - offering various youth programs.

"Our priority population is youth," said DELTA program specialist Candice Bressler. "Our major goal is to stop violence before it starts.

"DELTA is a great program, because it is not about just one agency working toward nonviolence; it is the community coming together, recognizing the issues and working comprehensively to prevent interpersonal violence."

DELTA is a national program for intimate partner violence prevention funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nine coalitions were originally funded in 2002, and five more were added in 2003. Current DELTA sites in Alaska are in Juneau, Sitka, Dillingham and Ketchikan.

"Social change happens when people gather together with a shared dream and vision and work for change," said Ati Nasiah, who oversees AWARE's prevention programs. "This is something I believe we are beginning to do in relation to interpersonal and sexual violence and our tolerance and acceptance of this violence in our community."

DELTA operates through coordinated community response (CCR), a team that functions like an advisory group, board of directors, task force and focus group, Bressler said.

The two AWARE staff members involved in administering the program locally are Bressler and Nasiah. They are assisted by other staff members, who sit on their coordinated community response sessions, and state DELTA coordinator Lori Grassgreen.

"It is all about community engagement," Bressler said. "Violence prevention doesn't work if it's just one agency keeping the focus. That's why our initiative is to include and involve as many community agencies and partners as possible to make this truly a community focused program."

According to Nasiah, DELTA recently finished a nine-week Women's Studies class at Yaakoosge Daakahidi Alternative High School, where it taught at-risk females about healthy relationships, financial independence, media literacy and available resources for women in abusive relationships.

For this class DELTA partnered with the Junior Achievement program, Juneau FASD Clinic, Alaska Nutrition Education Program and National Organization of Women.

Other DELTA projects include the following:

• Girls on the Run - a 12-week, 24-lesson empowerment-through-running program for 8- to 12-year-old girls;

• Coaching Boys into Men - a new program similar to Girls on the Run, but for boys;

• White Ribbon Campaign - the largest campaign of men working to stop violence against women through taking a pledge to not commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women;

• a partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters, which is looking to find Big Brothers for more than 30 local boys and which will conduct a Big Little Training later this month;

• Real Beauty/Uniquely Me workshops, which provide girls and important adult women in their lives a chance to discuss real beauty, self-respect and the importance of self-confidence;

• and a December First Friday fundraising event, "Building the Future," hosted by the Rendezvous.

"These programs will be like building blocks so youth have the skills and tools to not make the choice to use violence in their relationships as move to adolescence and then into adulthood," Nasiah said. "The idea is to set a strong healthy foundation in individuals, in community climates and in mainstream values to interviene with cultural norms and acceptance of violence."

Right now, DELTA's major need is volunteers - both individuals and community agencies.

"A lot of people's job responsibilities already fit into the goals of DELTA, so it's a matter of connecting with those folks and agencies and getting a well-rounded partnership initiated and maintained," Bressler said. "We need for DELTA to be sustainable, and this only works when the community is in support."

Those interested in DELTA or any of its programs, including the Coaching Boys into Men program, should contact Ati Nasiah at atin@awareak.org or 586-6623.

"My hopes for community engagement are that DELTA maintains a community presence and that we recruit and retain well-rounded partnerships with individuals, agencies and corporations in Juneau so we can achieve our goals and sustain our prevention efforts," Bressler said. "Violence affects this entire community, and Juneau would be a much better place if it was violence-free."

• Contact Neighbors editor Kim Andree at kim.andree@juneauempire.com.



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