Virtual Event for Teens and Parents aims to Promote Healthy Relationships
Nonprofit organizations EmPoWER Somerset, in collaboration with the EmPoWER Youth Advisory Board, Safe+Sound Somerset and Zufall Health Center, through their Sexual Assault Support Services Program (SASS), are partnering to offer “Love Doesn’t Have to Hurt,” a virtual event for middle and high school students and their parents. Registration is required to receive the zoom link for this free event taking place on Thursday, February 11th from 6:00 to 7:30 pm. Participating teens must be accompanied by a parent or adult caregiver.
This event is being held in recognition of National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month in February. Through expert presentations and an interactive Kahoot quiz, the event will explore the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship, which can begin with subtle forms of emotional, verbal and digital abuse, and provide helpful tips on cultivating healthy relationships and avoiding danger. Participants will learn about the prevention and support services offered by each organization, and will have the chance to win door prizes including Apple Air Pods.
“Since 1 out of 3 teens experiences dating violence of some kind before high school graduation, we need everyone to recognize the warning signs and spread awareness about free services,” said Jessica Skultety, Community Outreach Associate at Safe+Sound Somerset, the county’s leading domestic violence response agency. Their services include a 24/7 call or text hotline 866-685-1122 providing supportive listening, information, safety planning, and connection to free services.
Zufall Health Center’s SASS program is a free service for sexual assault support, helping those who have been impacted and preventing sexual violence by raising awareness and promoting healthy attitudes and behaviors. “We are so excited to collaborate with EmPoWER Somerset and co-present with Safe + Sound to spread awareness about Teen Dating Violence,” said Joyce Monserrate, Bilingual Confidential Sexual Violence Advocate and Outreach Worker at Zufall’s SASS program.
Empower Somerset works to empower individuals and families to make positive lifestyle choices by promoting healthy communities through education, collaboration, and connections to resources. The agency coordinates the EmPoWER Youth Advisory Board, a group of approximately 25 middle and high school student leaders from throughout central New Jersey working to address challenging issues that impact their generation. This event is part of their ongoing virtual education series for teens and parents.
Katie Hoben and Aarti Patel, Empower Somerset Health and Wellness Program Associates, are the co-advisors of the Empower YAB, providing guidance and support to the student members.
“National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month provided the perfect opportunity to address this important topic with the YAB,” said Hoben. “Over one hundred people have registered so far, but there is still plenty of room to sign up! We have a great panel of speakers and we are confident that this event will raise awareness and lead to more conversations at home to keep youth safe.”
Empower YAB members agree. President Jasmine Langomas and Vice President Ariha Meta, both high school juniors, are two of the YAB student leaders helping to promote the event among their peers.
“Toxic relationships shouldn’t be the new normal,” said Langomas. “So let’s spread information to create a safe environment for all.”
“We are raising awareness about teen dating violence through education so that respectful and healthy relationships can be fostered and maintained between partners,” said Mehta.