One of the unique aspects to any of the initiatives conceived and implemented by SWOVA is that Salt Spring Island plays the distinct role of a Petri dish. The broader community on Salt Spring Island has always embraced SWOVA’s projects, with School District #64 being a leading champion, resulting in yearly program implementation.
Eleven years ago, SWOVA developed the Respectful Relationships (R+R) school-based, and gender-focused violence prevention program for youth aged 12-18 years old. School District #64 is the only school district in the province that has implemented this program on a yearly basis in grades 7, 8, 9, and 10, for the past decade.
The R+R program has proven to be effective with both male and female students. Each 12-workshop curriculum contains a separate gender workshop. The Pass it On Project grew out of girls and young women taking the R+R program during a separate gender session. They wanted more support for girls and young women at risk, and more time to discuss issues specific to their gender.
Salt Spring was fortunate to be the first community within which the project was initiated. For its second year, four other communities were added (Prince George, Valemount/McBride, Uclulet, and Kamloops), but Salt Spring Island incorporated the added dimension of integrating one of the R+R program’s foundational components with a major objective of the Pass It On Project – to participate more in the community to promote health and safety of young women.
On May 28th, the R+R Youth Team and the Pass It On Mentors will be hosting and running the first annual Spark Fest festival filled with fabulous prizes, delicious food, and great live music. This is the first event of its kind for youth on the island. It all came about when Kate Maurice, the Pass It On Mentor Supervisor, had the opportunity to meet weekly with the R+R Youth Team. Kate felt it was important to build an awareness of SWOVA within the community and suggested the concept of creating a youth festival with the R+R Youth Team. Their immediate reaction was one of excitement. They have never had such an opportunity to build something of this magnitude that would express what is important to them and to share that with the community.
The youth hope to ‘spark’ an awareness of and an excitement for all SWOVA programs. They also have a keen desire to see the Pass It On project continue on Salt Spring Island next year and to expand over the coming years, as R+R has in their lifetime within the school district.
Kate believes that with such articulate and passionate youth, who are ‘doers’, there is nothing stopping them. They are committed to taking action for something that has been inspiring for them. We hasten to add, that it has also been Kate’s vision and enthusiasm that is lighting a spark within all of us to respectfully pass on the values of SWOVA. We look forward to seeing everyone at Spark Fest on May 28th on Salt Spring Island.
Chris Gay – Pass It On Phase II Coordinator