The Verde Valley Sanctuary (VVS)’s Community-Based Advocacy Department is home to one of Arizona’s longest-standing violence prevention programs, Youth Empowerment Services (YES). YES specialists provide violence prevention and healthy relationship education to students in elementary, junior high, and high school during the school year throughout Sedona and the Verde Valley.
The YES Program equips students with the skills to resist violence and abuse and empowers students to make positive choices. YES Specialists, Amanda Majewski and Evelia Mulleneaux, completely revamped the presentations with school feedback this past summer. They provided classroom training in eight schools collectively in Cottonwood, Camp Verde, Cornville, Sedona, and Rimrock during the 2022/2023 school year. Teacher evaluations receive positive feedback about the curriculum and the presentations, along with some suggestions for increasing student participation. “We are always looking for more creative ways to engage students in a fun and participatory learning experience,” says YES Specialist, Evelia Mulleneaux.
The YES Program curriculum includes:
- Self-Awareness, Bullying, Peer Pressure, Empowerment (K-10th)
- Kindness and Caring (K)
- Feelings (K)
- Healthy vs Unhealthy Friendship (K-5th)
- Gratitude and Self-Esteem (K – 5th)
- Empathy and Compassion (1st – 8th)
- Stress and Relaxation (1st – 8th)
- Gratitude and Body Image (6th – 8th)
- Healthy vs Unhealthy Relationships (6th – 8th)
On average, each classroom is provided with five courses per school year. The students are eager to learn and are invested in the presentations, games, activities, and conversations. Presenters encourage youth input; it is a genuinely participative experience. During the 2022/2023 school year, YES specialists provided 125 presentations to 908 students in grade levels K through 10th. “We are at the schools nearly every day during the school year,” says YES Specialist, Amanda Majewski.
Community-Based Advocacy Director, Vivien Mann, shares “I am really proud of the YES specialists and how they work with the schools and the students! We hope that every school in Sedona and the Verde Valley will subscribe to the YES Program. Our goal is to provide education for children to help them develop healthy relationships and the coping skills to maintain them.” The YES specialists also help produce the annual Verde Valley Teen Maze and provide information about VVS and the YES Program at National Night Out, Take Back the Night, and other family-oriented community events. The Teen Maze is a community-driven event to help 8th grade students experience the consequences of life choices and prepare them for the challenges they may face in high school. Teen Maze and its design “bring to life” the potential effects of various life choices. This week-long event is coordinated and sponsored by Yavapai County Community Health Services (YCCHS) and VVS.
During the summer months, the YES specialists provide children staying in Emergency Shelter numerous community adventures, such as a trip to the river to collect rocks, paint them, and decorate the Shelter; the movies; the library; an historical tour of Jerome.
For more information about the YES Program, contact Community-Based Advocacy Director, Vivien Mann at (928) 641-6916 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about VVS or to make a donation, contact Community Development Director, Tracey McConnell at (928) 282-2755, email@example.com, or visit the website https://verdevalleysanctuary.org.