At the Reflections Day Treatment Program for incarcerated youth, ten teens stepped up to the challenge. Together, they created the "You Decide" campaign and distributed wristbands, key chains and stickers when they presented to their peers about the dangers of teen relationship violence.
In all, the teens presented to almost 500 peers in several phases of the San Diego County probation system. They also provided intervention and awareness materials to case workers and probation officers.
The effort was part of an initiative led by public television station KPBS to raise awareness about teen relationship violence, a growing problem in the San Diego area. One goal is for teens to educate each other about prevention and local resources that can help.
In addition to the Reflections group, three teen peer educator groups in local high schools also participated in the project. All four groups showcased their presentations and materials at a KPBS Community Open House to celebrate the initiative.
"The materials they presented were incredible. It was professional quality," said Annie Lyles of the San Diego Office of Violence Prevention and a KPBS project partner. Lyles credits KPBS with an "amazing job of making this a truly teen-led event."
Not only have the teens involved in the campaign been genuinely empowered, they've also embraced the role of empowering others.
As participating teens graduate out of the Reflections program, new arrivals are volunteering for the campaign. Best of all, the program continues to grow and the reach of their campaign is expanding.
Paula Obrigewitch, Senior Probation Officer and a KPBS partner, says participants will soon present their awareness campaign to the judges of the juvenile court - some of the same judges who presided over the participants' convictions.