This blog was authored by Jessie Towne-Cardenas (on behalf of CALCASA) Partner, Training and Curriculum Development Lead at Aboreta Group.
Riverside Area Rape Crisis Center (RARCC) has been implementing their RPE program at John W. North High School for years so when the supplemental funds came through last year, they leveraged the opportunity to kick off a “new” more comprehensive program beginning with the new funding cycle. As a consultant working with CALCASA to support RPE program, I was lucky to be able to take the quick drive from San Diego to join Debora, Jorge, and Irene on campus at North for a keynote speaker from the Date Safe Project, resource fair in the quad, and Q&A session for adults.
The day began in the theater with over 200 young people in attendance for an energetic and well-received presentation from Mike Domitrz from the Date Safe Project. The Date Safe Project’s goal is to “help teach safer understandings of relationships and sexual intimacy to all ages; how to insure all intimacy is consensual – while also being passionate and romantic; how sexual assault is defined; and how to support survivors of sexual assault/rape.” As I looked around, I saw the usual sights that I remember from being an educator: kids sneaking texts on their phone, a bit of laughing and looks among friends, but also a lot of head nods and interaction. And though Mike has the opportunity to travel the world with his message about consent and asking first to big audiences, I thought of how lucky young people are to have RPE educators delivering these messages in groups across California. And not only delivering the message but also engaging in a conversation, listening to young people, and supporting them in becoming agents of change.
Time for lunch! It was ASB elections for next year so a great time for RARCC to host a resource fair with other community partners. While students strolled to tables, we also heard the speeches of young leaders at the school. I got to see their team in action answering questions, throwing down challenges about “asking first”, and rallying students to be part of action on campus to promote consent and healthy relationships. Finally, we met up with teachers, parents, and other providers for a question and answer period with Mike. It was an opportunity for them to ask direct questions and get tips on how to navigate conversations about consent, respect and equality in relationships, and hear a shout out from the staff at RARCC.
I even had the opportunity to meet the Vice Principal and hear his words of appreciation for the RARCC team and their work on campus. It’s an exciting time at North High School and RARCC with more saturation of the school campus, extended training for teachers, and examination of school policy. Success all around!