by Katrina Clark
My first day in the office was the day New York went “on pause” – a truly wonky time to start! While I was concerned about the impact COVID would have on my role as the agency’s Youth Educator, health teachers within Tompkins County were still committed to having us teach classes for their students.
While developing modified content to meet remote learning requirements, we were also aware that many students had less direct access to staff and services. Because of this, we adjusted our content to maintain a trauma-informed lens, and not overwhelm or trigger isolated students.
Middle school students explored boundaries – what they are, how to express their own, and the importance of honoring others’. We also discussed digital safety skills, and the importance of identifying controlling behaviors, both on and offline.
High school students named healthy versus unhealthy relationship behaviors, debunked common myths about sexual assault and abuse, and identified ways in which they can support themselves or their friends who may have these experiences. Our high school digital safety program dived deeper into areas of concern related to online activity, such as harassment, coerced sexting, and revenge porn. Additionally, some classes engaged in a unique offering that explored what trauma is, how it may impact us, and the ways in which art can facilitate healing for both individuals and communities processing traumatic experiences.
As summer approaches, many educators are reflecting on our sustained efforts to serve students throughout a tumultuous time – and hey, we made it! I would like to express the sincerest of thanks to all the teachers who demonstrated a continued commitment towards providing their students with education rooted in sexual and relationship violence prevention this past year. The opportunity to increase the visibility of our agency and services, as well as to provide youth with skill sets that are intended to foster non-violence, is invaluable.
Looking forward, I am excited for the upcoming school year and the potential of in-person programming!
If you would like to connect with me to discuss potential programs for youth that you work with — e.g. summer camps, sports teams, scouts, religious groups, etc. — please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org