Yesterday, the YWCA of Silicon Valley hosted a Strength Summit, convening facilitators of MyStrength and female strength clubs from across the state to talk about strategies for improving sessions, launching new clubs, and and ways to strengthen our gender sensitive primary prevention work. The session started with a dynamic and engaging presentation from Donnovan Somera Yisrael, who currently works as The Manager of Relationship and Sexual Health Programs at Stanford University. Donnovan talked about the ways to improve our work in breaking down gender norms through activities and dialogue with the young people we serve. The afternoon workshops addressed evaluation and survey tools, community service projects, among others.
The most impactful piece of the day didn’t exist in the confines of a workshop, it was the dialogue and connections made between educators. There were a number of “me too” moments, where educators shared their struggles with recruitment and retention, launching new programs, or getting key stakeholder buy-in. Peer facilitated conversations allowed for group processing and problem solving, proving solutions that no conference call or email listserv could ever provide. These conversations were invigorating, reminding me that I am a part of a community of preventionists who are changing the lives of young people and the health and well being of communities.
We appreciate the leadership of Della Duncan and Pavel Korobkov and the work of their colleagues Sue and Kerry of the YWCA of Silicon Valley to create a space where, in the absence of an annual MyStrength conference, facilitators could meet and build upon the work they do to shift paradigms of gender norms and empower youth to use their voices to prevent violence in their communities.