Each day had a symbolic color with a powerful message.
Sept. 21 was white day to encourage people to be an active bystander by intervening in a situation you know is wrong and could possibly hurt someone.
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Sept. 22 was purple day representing domestic violence in all forms — mental, emotional, physical and technological.
Sept. 23 was orange day representing victims of teen dating violence.
Sept. 24 was blue day to allow the corporation staff members to pay to wear blue jeans and raise money for a good cause.
Finally, Sept. 25 was red day to raise awareness of the red flags of domestic violence and knowing them to save yourself or others.
The themed days were a part of a Lead4Change project by the five students in Robin Perry’s business management class: Seniors Layden Canary, Logan Miller and Carly Perry and juniors Grant Elliott and Nick Minton.
Lead4Change was created by the Foundation for Impact on Literacy and Learning and the Lift a Life Novak Family Foundation to encourage middle and high school students to hone leadership skills by completing a service project around a community need involving a public nonprofit.
The team chose to focus on Turning Point Domestic Violence Services.
Elliott’s involvement with the organization’s Teen for Change group piqued his classmates’ interest.
“We had a lot of different ideas, but Grant gave us the most solid idea out of anybody,” Miller said. “He brought this idea supporting Turning Point and dating violence awareness. It was really rough at first, but it was really the one that we all just stuck with because it means so much.”
Miller said the cause was personal because he knows people who have been victims of domestic violence or teen dating violence.
“A lot of it can be prevented by just informing people,” he said. “I think that was our big goal was to try to educate people on what it looks like, how it could happen, just what to look for so you don’t end up in an abusive relationship you can’t escape from or how to help friends or where to go for help.”
Minton said he became aware of Turning Point when a representative spoke to students when he was in middle school.
“You hear about so many people that have been in an abusive relationship,” he said. “It’s just so common now and needs awareness for it and maybe even stop it, lessen it.”
Perry said she also knows people who have been in abusive relationships and needed help.
Elliott brought up a Turning Point shelter in Columbus, and Perry thought it would be good to raise money or donate supplies to it. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, shut down that idea.
The group didn’t give up, though, and used the jean day to raise money for Turning Point.
The student’s initial goal was $200, and then they raised it to $500. Overall, they wound up with more than $530, which will pay for one domestic abuse victim to receive much-needed counseling.
“Even though I haven’t been exposed to (domestic violence) as much as some other people have, I know deep down that it’s not right, and you just need to help people who are affected by it,” Canary said. “It’s one of those things that you can always help in the community.”
The group also brought awareness to domestic violence by Elliott creating a slideshow with information on a screen in the cafeteria, and red flags and posters were strategically placed around the school.
Miller shared the red flags and other information on the morning and afternoon announcements, while the posters were created by teens who have faced some form of adversity and entered them in an art show organized by Turning Point.
“We really focused on the red flags of teen dating violence and helping people identify what an abusive relationship is and what they do if they believe they are or a friend is in an abusive relationship,” Elliott said.
Another part of the project was increasing the amount of resources available in the school’s counseling office. Charlotte Moss with Jackson County Turning Point provided fliers and shoe cards for students to take as needed.
“That just stems from the idea that you would be able to tuck it into your shoe so you could have that resource,” Miller said of the business-card-size shoe cards.
Elliott said this was a good year to do the project because in talking to Moss, he learned there has been in increase in cases of domestic violence during the pandemic.
“During the quarantine, it was just harder to access resources and means of saving yourself, and it was detrimental for healthy relationships, so this was the best year for (the project),” he said.
The project also was timely because October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Finally, as a way to test students’ retention of the information shared throughout the week, the group conducted a contest between classes. The first class to share five red flags of domestic violence received candy.
“It’s another thing to keep it in people’s minds and bring it to their attention,” Miller said. “We really just wanted to directly involve them.”
The group agreed the students were receptive to all that was shared.
“It’s just to know that if they ever need help that Turning Point is a resource or an outlet that they can use and to just see the red flags and see things that aren’t OK in a relationship and if they ever need help to seek it,” Canary said.
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For rules and details about the Lead4Change Challenge, visit lead4change.org.
For information about Turning Point Domestic Violence Services, visit turningpointdv.org.