Community Primary Prevention Partnerships: Willmar, MN

 

Safe Avenues logo

Safe Avenues is working within two area communities to build youth capacity to develop healthy relationships.   

 

Mission Statement

To equip teens with the knowledge and skills to develop healthy relationships and foster school, faith communities, and home environments where equality and non-violence are valued and embodied. 

 

Project Overview

  • Through the use of the evidence-based curriculum Safe Dates, Safe Avenues will increase youth knowledge of what healthy relationship embody and equip them with the skills necessary to develop healthy relationships.  The curriculum will be used in three area schools:  DREAM Technical Academy, Willmar Senior High School, and BOLD High School. 
  • Student leaders from each of the area schools will engage in community-wide, youth-led, Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaigns.
  • Safe Avenues will work with DREAM Technical Academy on recommendations and the adoption of organizational practices and/or policies that address sexual violence and gender equality. 
  • In collaboration with area faith communities, Safe Avenues will equip caregivers with the information necessary to have constructive conversations about relationships and set clear standards on relationship behavior for their youth.  This will be done utilizing the Families for Safe Dates materials. 

 

Lessons Learned

  1. To end sexual violence, we must engage our communities in a dialogue about primary prevention. 
  2. Using an -evidencebased curriculum lends credibility to a project.
  3. It can be challenging to schedule a curriculum like Safe Dates in schools.  While the rewards are great, to implement in fidelity requires a time commitment.  Be cognizant that planning takes time.  Starting early, six to nine months in advance of implementation isn’t out of line, it’s recommended.   

 

Why It’s Needed

“It’s exciting to see light bulbs go off for people as they learn more or are challenged to reflect on their own beliefs and values. It provides a sense of hope that his curriculum could have a profound impact on our community.” – Jen Johnson, Executive Director at Safe Avenues

“For so long, our conversations focused on our violence intervention services. With that focus came a natural inclination to engage the “usual suspects” as partners…those involved in the criminal justice system or those whose work also included intervention-like medical and mental health professionals. To be successful in the prevention of sexual violence within our community, we need to look to “unusual suspects” to help us shift those underlying conditions that contribute to the violence.” – Kasey Baker, Director of Community Outreach at Safe Avenues 

 

Community Partners

  • DREAM Technical Academy, Willmar
  • Willmar Senior High School, Willmar
  • BOLD High School, Olivia
  • Kandiyohi County Attorney’s Office
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