Please note: Entries within this blog may contain reference to instances of domestic abuse, dating abuse, sexual assault, abuse or harassment. At all times, Break the Cycle encourages readers to take whatever precautions necessary to protect themselves emotionally and psychologically.  If you would like to speak with an advocate, please contact a 24/7 peer advocate at 866-331-9474  or text “loveis” to 22522.

National Youth Advisory Board Retreat 2014

Last week, loveisrespect’s awesome National Youth Advisory Board (NYAB) convened in the tranquil, picturesque North Carolina mountainside for their annual retreat. It was inspiring to see the 18 incredible NYAB members who could make it come from all over the country to learn how they can teach their peers, schools and communities about healthy relationships.

So much happened over the course of three days! Here are just a few of the highlights:

  • NYAB members practiced presenting the Start Talking curriculum, covering just a few topics such as:
    • How to organize a community outreach event
    • The differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships
    • The signs of digital abuse
    • How they can talk about dating abuse with their friends, peers and more
  • Over 45 messages of hope were sent in five minutes to survivors of domestic violence and dating abuse. This is part of the #VoicesHavePower campaign going on right now, where every time you send a message of hope to a survivor of abuse, Verizon will donate $3 to help end dating abuse. Together, our board members proved their voices have power!
  • The group bonded together over team building activities, like Land Mines, where one person was blindfolded while others navigated their way through “landmines,” or plates on the ground. Each time it changed — for example, the group would come up with their own language, such as tapping on the right shoulder to move right. Afterwards, everyone contributed what worked and what didn’t, and how that represents how they can communicate effectively in presentations back at their schools and communities.
  • They created PSAs under the theme “What is Love?” that promote healthy relationships
  • Everyone got a real workout when they went rock climbing on Chimney Rock, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
  • After moving those muscles, everyone settled in to relax and watch a movie — The Breakfast Club — which most NYAB members were seeing for the first time.
  • In the spirit of the theatre, NYAB members performed skits at the campfire that showed what love is and what it really means.

“We talk a lot about kids, and everything that they do wrong in the world,” said Laura Kesselman, Break the Cycle’s event planner. “Well, if [NYAB] is a reflection of the kids growing up today, I would say we’re in pretty good hands.”

“It’s great to see that our youth still care about topics that affect them directly,” said Joseph Jessie, Communications Manager for Break the Cycle. “Not only that they care, but that there are so many willing to do something to change the lives of their peers in a way that will impact them for years.”

Special thanks to the Avon Foundation for supporting the NYAB and making this amazing event possible!