Dynamic kids take on project
WORTHINGTON -- A State Farm Good Neighbor Service Learning Grant is helping a student group make strides in a service learning project addressing teen dating violence.
The $1,000 grant was awarded by State Farm and Youth Service America (YSA) to Dynamic 507 -- an after-school program offered through the Nobles County Integration Collaborative -- to encourage students to be "good neighbors" in their communities.
Lakeyta Potter, Dynamic 507 program coordinator, explained the semester-long project began on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Students participated in radio interviews and launched bilingual public service announcements in English and Spanish relating to teen dating.
To spread awareness to their peers, the group has conducted several activities in the schools and will organize more in months to come.
"The project is extremely important because domestic violence happens among teens. It's prevalent in our own community here in Worthington," Potter said. "It's very relevant."
Dynamic 507 identified middle-school and high-school students as their target groups for the project.
Members Maggie Sanchez and Desalegn Zemenfes conducted a short, after-school presentation on Monday for sixth-graders.
"Sixth-graders are already dating," Sanchez said. "They can get into a really bad situation. and they won't even know it. A lot of them only think of physical or sexual abuse, but there's emotional and mental abuse, too."
An upcoming project will be four high school presentations on teen dating violence.
"We'll be doing a skit and a Power Point," Sanchez said, adding they will be presenting to four health classes from ninth and 10th grades. "We're really looking forward to it."
To prepare for the presentation, Southwest Crisis Center (SWCC) advocate Thi Synavone provided the group with a month-long session on the various aspects of healthy relationships, signs of an abusive relationship and things they could do to help their peers who were in such relationships.
"It is a youth-focused group," she said. "With the presentation, we wanted it to come from the teens because youths can relate better with each other."
Synavone explained that from the information they gathered, they decided which topics of discussion were more pertinent to their peers.
Additionally, the group has compiled and distributed brochures, bookmarks and index cards of local resources for domestic violence to their high school peers.
On Tuesday, three Dynamic 507 members represented their group at the Minnesota State Capitol, where they had the opportunity to speak with Rep. Rod Hamilton and Rep. Joe Schomacker.
Group member Patricia Martinez explained how they informed the legislators on the progress of their service learning project and activities they had planned.
"It was our first time, and it was a great experience," she said.
As a culmination to the their service learning project, Dynamic 507 members will organize a donation drive at the middle school and high school from March 19 to 30. They will accept toiletries and other daily necessities to make 100 crisis kits for SWCC. The kits will be distributed during Global Youth Service Day in April.
Daily Globe Reporter Ana Anthony can be reached at 376-7321.