Non-violence at heart of YWCA's events
By NATALIE BAUGHMAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 15, 2000
ST. PETERSBURG -- Young girls in a YWCA club will host the organization's sixth annual "Week Without Violence." It starts today.
About 30 girls involved in the Program for Early Training Toward Adult Lifestyles (PETTALS) -- a youth development program for girls ages 11 to 17 that focuses on developing life skills -- have planned the workshop to raise awareness about violence and prevent it from occurring, said Judy Ganisin, the director of community relations for the YWCA.
"It's a weeklong public awareness campaign," Ganisin said. "It's our goal to educate people about violence."
The "Week Without Violence" is an annual event sponsored by the national YWCA organization. The St. Petersburg chapter first expressed interest in the program after disturbances in October 1996. This is the first year it was planned by a youth group.
The girls used the leadership, communication, letter-writing and conflict-resolution skills fundamental to the PETTALS group while preparing the workshop, said Valerie Prosser, the director of the PETTALS program.
"It teaches the girls to be leaders in a hands-on fashion," Prosser said. "Through this program they have learned that they can be the ones to make important changes in this world."
The program will start at 5:30 tonight with a candlelight vigil at the North Straub Park band shell. The theme will be "A Day of Remembrance." Guest speakers will discuss the importance of keeping the peace.
Other themes for the week include "Making Our Schools Safer," "Confronting Violence Against Women," "Raising Non-violent Youth" and "Eliminating Racism and Hate Crimes."
The event will reach out to a broad range of ages. At a "Fun Fest" Monday, young children will be able to exchange plastic guns or knives for non-violent toys. On Tuesday, students at Boca Ciega, Northeast, Osceola and St. Petersburg high schools will include peaceful statements in the morning announcements.
Families will be able to participate in Thursday's "Raising Non-violent Youth" demonstration at the University of South Florida's St. Petersburg campus and Saturday's "Family Fun Fair," which will conclude the event. Families can watch a magic show, do arts and crafts and have their faces painted at the event, starting at 10 a.m. at Pinellas Village.
Ganisin said her favorite part of the week will take place Wednesday when the "Clothesline Project of Tampa Bay" will be presented at USF's St. Petersburg campus. Girls and their families will have the opportunity to paint on a white T-shirt their feelings about violence toward women. The T-shirts will be hung side by side on a clothesline so everyone can read them.
"The clothesline will present a very therapeutic and powerful message," Ganisin said. "Then everyone will know our stance on violence."
To learn more
Here is the schedule of events for the YWCA's "Week Without Violence."
Today: "A Day of Remembrance," a candlelight vigil dedicated to victims of violence, will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the North Straub Park band shell.
Monday: "Fun Fest for Safety," a trade-in of violent toys, will take place at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg Campus, Campus Activities Center, 140 Seventh Ave. S, from 5 to 7 p.m. There also will be a magic show, finger painting and music.
Tuesday: "Making Our Schools Safe." Girls in the PETTALS program will include peaceful statements in the morning announcements of their schools. This will take place at several local high schools.
Wednesday: "Breaking the Silence -- Confronting Violence Against Women." The Clothesline Project will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the USF St. Petersburg Campus, Harborside and Davis Lobby. T-shirts with messages expressing feelings toward violence against women will be hung on the clothesline.
Thursday: "Raising Non-violent Youth." A presentation on raising non-violent youth will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the USF St. Petersburg Campus, Davis Hall, Room 228.
Friday: "Eliminating Racism and Hate Crimes." PETTALS youth members will set up information tables during their lunch periods and encourage students to sign a Unity Pledge to say that they respect the freedom of all people. This will take place at several local high schools.
Saturday: "YWCA Family Fun Fair." Families can gather for games, face painting, and arts and crafts from 10 a.m. to noon at the YWCA Camp at Pinellas Village, 8351 Bayou Boardwalk Drive, Largo.
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