Guest post by: Kole Wyckhuys, Prevention Education Program Director, HAVEN
Domestic and sexual violence have long been deeply engrained within a culture of silence and shame. It’s time we strategically utilize the power of sports culture to shift the paradigm and prevent violence before it occurs. Sport is skillfully packaged, branded, commodified, and undeniably has an elevated role in American culture. This elevated and powerful platform affords them the influence to leverage social change and embolden communities to take a strong stance against violence.
The Lions revealed the expansion of their relationship with HAVEN and granted $250,000 dollars, over 3 years, to fund a HAVEN-designed leadership development program for young men in Oakland and Wayne Counties.
At HAVEN, we value partnering with organizations that are rooted within communities and strive to build collaborative efforts. As a result we have partnered and subcontracted $69,000 in funding with the SASHA Center, (a Detroit-based agency providing culturally specific peer support groups to survivors of sexual assault in the black community), to bring this leadership development programming into Detroit and surrounding Wayne County.
HAVEN’s program is named; Redefine, and is a multi-session leadership development program where groups of high school young men meet once a week, for eight weeks, to increase awareness surrounding issues related to unhealthy masculinity and gender-based violence. Our young American men are inundated with messages about manhood that supports the enactment of an extreme and toxic masculinity. We believe that mentoring a healthier vision of manliness can be helpful in creating a society that is built on gender equity and social justice.
HAVEN’s interactive program is meant to involve young men in awareness raising, leadership development, and provides them with skills and tools to confront domestic and sexual violence; as well as, to foster healthier and happier emotional lives.
It’s our goal to train young men to respond appropriately, mentor peers, and develop peer leadership strategies to effectively alter school and cultural environments to not accept, condone, or tolerate violence or bullying. The anti-violence movement has created the opportunity for men to step outside of rigid gender expectations and celebrate a full range of human emotions, behaviors, and complexities. It’s our collective task to educate young men to redefine manliness in such a way that is rooted in the celebration of gender equity and accountability. Students who participate in the entire program will have the opportunity to meet current and alumni players, win tickets to games, and other exciting incentives provided by the Detroit Lions.
Visit HAVEN’s website for more information about our leadership development opportunity or to schedule a meeting with a local high school.
HAVEN provides shelter, counseling, advocacy and educational programming to nearly 30,000 people each year and greatly relies on the generosity of the community. Please click here to volunteer your time or click here to make a tax-deductible donation.