DEVELOPING A DIALOGUE WO M E N ’ S R E SOU RCE CE NTE R ’ S SAFE DATE S PRO G R A M SE E K S TO E DUC ATE TEE N S SAFE DATES SESSION BREAKDOWN Session 1: Defining Caring Relationships Session 2: Defining Dating Abuse Session 3: Why Do People Abuse? Session 4: How to Help Friends Session 5: Helping Friends Session 6: Overcoming Gender Stereotypes Session 7: How We Feel, How We Deal Session 8: Equal Power through Communication Session 9: Preventing Sexual Assault Session 10: Reviewing the Safe Dates Program “If you can’t talk about it— you shouldn’t be doing it.” When Patty McLain, a teen educator for the Women’s Resource Center in Scranton, heard these words from one of the students in her “Safe Dates” class, she knew they had gotten the message. “The students listen to their peers,” she said. “By allowing them to speak and share their experiences, they can learn from others and discover how people’s lives and home cultures really shape their experiences.” Launched this past fall by the Women’s Resource Center, “Safe Dates” is a national program that includes an evidence-based curriculum for grades seven through 12 made up of 10 sessions, each focusing on a different aspect of relationships, including communication, abuse, friendships, gender stereotypes and more. “We are grateful for the tax credit donations made by Lackawanna Casualty Co., Fidelity Bank, M&T Bank and PPL that made this important prevention project possible,” said Peg Ruddy, the center’s executive director. “Thanks to this community support, we are able to reach more students and raise more awareness.” Locally, the Women’s Resource Center 8 • The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce has hosted the program in the Scranton, Riverside, and Abington Heights school districts, with plans to expand throughout the region. “The Women’s Resource Center has done a lot of education and awareness events throughout our history, but we’ve really started to shift toward true prevention work, not just raising awareness about the issues,” said Sarah Dawgert, the center’s education manager. “We seek to stop the violence before it starts.” Students are given the opportunity to provide public, as well as private, feedback at the end of each lesson to ensure that if they need to speak out against something they see happening, they feel empowered to do so. They also have the chance to win prizes featuring the Women’s Resource Center’s hotline, should the need arise. “One of the things I love most about this program is that it is intentionally created to build on itself,” McLain said. “We start with what a healthy relationship looks like; the students think not only about how they want to be treated, but also about how to treat their partner as well. They get tangible tools and strategies to help them in their lives.” Students in the Scranton School District have also had the opportunity to be part of a poster contest, where winning artwork will be featured on billboards donated by Lamar Advertising. “The billboard artwork helps the students put the messages we’re teaching in their own words and images,” Dawgert said. “Their peers can see what they are learning, then the community also gets to be a part of that messaging.” “The great thing about this program is that it focuses on prevention, as well as intervention,” she continued. “We try to honor everyone’s experience.” For more information, visit www.wrcnepa.com or email Sarah Dawgert at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Center’s 24-hour confidential hotline number is 1 (800) 257-5765.