New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Zach Strief visited Lusher Charter School on Tuesday (Nov. 15) to lead a session of Training Camps for Life, a partnership of the National Football League Players Association, A CALL TO MEN and the Verizon Foundation, to educate students about teen relationship violence.
The half-day, NFL-star-studded event addressed topics such as overcoming adversity, decisions and consequences, and healthy teen relationships – a critical addition to the Training Camps for Life agenda.
In a recent High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey by the Centers for Disease Control, New Orleans youths were found to significantly exceed the U.S. youth population in being threatened or injured by a weapon at school (15 percent vs. 8 percent), participating in a physical fight (46 percent vs. 36 percent, and being involved with dating violence (21 percent vs. 9 percent).
Strief led 500 Lusher students in taking the LIVERESPECT pledge (www.liverespect.org), a commitment to end teen relationship violence and speak out against domestic violence. He was joined by Saints defensive backs Malcolm Jenkins and Leigh Torrence, and Bernard Robertson, a retired Saint and Tulane University alumnus.
Across the country, more than 2,500 teens have taken the pledge to date. New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton was the first NFL coach to take the LIVERESPECT pledge in early October.
“Taking the LIVERESPECT pledge is a meaningful way to demonstrate respect for yourself, your girlfriend or boyfriend,” said Strief. “It’s also a great way for parents to start a conversation about healthy relationships with their kids.”
Ted Bunch, co-founder of A CALL TO MEN, said, “The NFL players do an amazing job talking to teens and getting them to understand why it’s important to commit themselves to healthy relationships, but it can’t stop there. The only way to achieve lasting change is to dive deeper into the cultural influences that shape teen relationships.”
Through the Training Camps for Life program, the Verizon Foundation funds A CALL TO MEN program to provide participating schools with a healthy relationships curriculum designed specifically for teens. The in-class curriculum aims to:
Help teens heal from past abuse.
Improve equality and respect in relationships.
Increase safety on school campuses.
Promote youth leadership in violence prevention.
“We are working to educate teens about the nuances of abuse – is what you are experiencing flirting or harassment? Is it concern or control?” said Rose Stuckey Kirk, president of the Verizon Foundation. “Through the healthy relationships curriculum, teens will learn the difference and know how to respond if confronted by violence or abuse.”
Partnering with the NFL Players Association on the Training Camps for Life program is part of the Verizon Foundation’s strategy to engage men and teens in helping end domestic violence.
George Atallah, assistant executive director of external affairs for the NFL Players Association, said: “Training Camps for Life reinforces important life skills such as how to overcome adversity, decisions and consequences, and having a plan for your life. Our NFL players are powerful, authentic role models for these important life lessons. They take a lot of pride in promoting the message of respect and nonviolence.”
Additional Training Camps for Life programs will be held this year in Boston on Dec. 9. The program will run throughout 2012.
The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon, uses its technology, financial resources and partnerships to address critical social issues, with a focus on education and domestic violence prevention. Verizon supports survivors of domestic violence through the Verizon HopeLine® program. Through HopeLine, no-longer-used wireless phones are collected and recycled or refurbished to support domestic violence survivors. Since 2001, more than 8 million wireless phones have been collected, and more than $10 million in cash grants have been awarded to domestic violence agencies and organizations throughout the country. Verizon has invested more than $28 million in domestic violence prevention. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizonfoundation.org.