Where Our Boys At? A Toolkit for Engaging Young Men as Allies to End Violence

In 2006, the Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team (YWAT) launched a campaign to engage young men as allies in addressing violence against girls. The YWAT, a youth-led and adult-supported social change project, conducted a participatory action research project that included the creation of a film called Real Talk (in collaboration with Beyondmedia Education), survey research, and a set of popular education workshops. In addition, the YWAT organized and implemented a two-day train the trainer workshop for fifteen young men ages 14-22 in November 2007.

We have compiled all of our research, resources, curriculum units, and lessons learned into a comprehensive toolkit. The toolkit called “Where Our Boys At: Involving Young Men in Gender Violence Prevention” will help other organizations and youth-led groups to create their own efforts in their local communities.

You can find the toolkit HERE.

Thanks to all of our male allies who were involved in this campaign. In particular, we want to specially thank Ed Mills who we learned so much from and who was just great.

After 8 years together, the YWAT disbanded this summer. This toolkit is the final product of our work. We hope that it is useful to those who want to involve young men in addressing violence against girls and young women.

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Saying Farewell…

YWAT Members Lead A Community March on Day of Action

When we launched the Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team (YWAT) in the summer of 2003, we could not have imagined where we would be today. We launched the project with eight young women and over the years we have had over 40 associate and core members.

We have traveled the country speaking in New Orleans, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Milwaukee, just to name a few places. We have directly educated over 5,000 youth and adults about street harassment, healthy relationships, and in general about violence against girls and young women. We know that our influence exceeds that number because of the curricula and train-the-trainer events that we sponsored over the years.

We have learned research skills through our participatory action research projects and have developed ourselves as leaders. We have created curricula and will release our final one about how to engage young men as allies to prevent gender-based violence this Fall. It will be our final project.

We have spent the past several months archiving all of the work that we have created over the past 8 years. We wanted to make sure to document our practice so that other young people who are taking action in the world might find some inspiration in what we accomplished and take it to the next level.

We are keeping our e-mail address though we will likely only check it from time to time. If you have questions about the history of our work, you can contact us at rpywat@hotmail.com.

Each and every young woman who has participated in creating YWAT is proud of what we have done. We are all lifelong activists and continue to take action in our communities together and independently. We thank every single person who contributed in any way to making YWAT what we became.

Special thanks to our funders, our allies, our families, and all of our supporters. We want to say a final special thanks to Mariame Kaba who served as our primary adult ally during the entire 8 years of our existence. We could not have achieved what we did without her love, support, and constant encouragement.

The struggle continues…

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Walking Home

This is an experimental piece about women ritually facing street harassment as they walk home. Shot in Brooklyn and Philadelphia, it mixes 16mm film, video, poetry and music in an effort to honor and reclaim our voice, name and humanity in the public sphere. This is for the walkers, talkers and those who say nothing.

A Third World Newsreel Workshop Production
in collaboration with Messages in Motion
Directed by Nuala Cabral

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Hollaback “I Got Your Back Campaign”

Hollaback!’s “I’ve got your back” Campaign from Emily May on Vimeo.

Hollaback has been working with folks around the world to fight street harassment, and now we’re taking it to the next level. The “I’ve got your back” campaign provides real options to people who want to help end street harassment with a simple message: “If you see someone being harassed, ask them if they are OK, and if there is anything you can do to help.” We will get out this message through the use of simple, yet powerful tools: an interactive map, apps for iPhone and Android and a film. When we’re successful, we’ll be providing real-time relief to people who are harassed around the world.

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March 20th is the International Day Against Street Harassment…

We at YWAT are very happy to hear that the recognition of street harassment as a harm to girls and women is picking up steam. When we launched our first “Day of Action” against street harassment in Chicago in 2006, we hoped that many other cities would follow suit. Now the movement is a global one and we feel really gratified about this.

You can read about women’s efforts to address street harassment on March 20th here.

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Catcaller Form

Courtesy of The Riot Magazine:

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Announcing the Launch of Suspension Stories!

Poster by Caitlin Ostrow-Seidler

It has taken well over a year but we are pleased today to officially launch the Suspension StoriesWebsite. This initiative is a partnership between the Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team and Project NIA.

This youth-led participatory action research project includes surveys, art, video, and audio. In addition, you will find relevant resources including newspaper articles, reports, and other tools. We created this website based on what we thought would be useful to other students, parents, educators and organizers. As we embarked on our journey to better understand the parameters of the school to prison pipeline, we kept wishing that a site like this existed. We hope that you will find this useful to your work.

We are incredibly proud of this final product and hope that it will be of great use to the broader community as we all work together to end harsh school disciplinary policies and school pushout. Ultimately, we hope that this site will serve as a platform for organizing to dismantle the school to prison pipeline.

We invite you to explore this site and ask that you complete this short five question survey to provide us with important feedback about our project.

Click here to take survey

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Lillian Moderates a Panel about the School to Prison Pipeline

Youth Activists Challenge the School to Prison Pipeline from Mariame Kaba on Vimeo.

Project NIA partnered with the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice at Roosevelt University to organize a panel of youth activists discussing the school to prison pipeline on October 16th 2010. This panel was part of a larger conference called the Cradle to College Summit. Youth activists represented several local organizations including Blocks Together, Chicago Freedom School, Gender Just, Korean American Resource and Cultural Center, and the Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team. This video is 57 minutes and opens with performances from youth affiliated with Young Chicago Authors. This event was filmed by Free Spirit Media.

The Dignity in Schools Campaign provided the funding to make this video.

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YWAT Presented A Workshop at the UIC Youth Development Summit Today…

YWAT leadership core member Lillian Matanmi co-facilitated a workshop called “Droppin Science: How Adult Allies Can Support and Foster Youth-Led Participatory Research and Activism.”

This interactive workshop introduced participants to the work of the Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team (YWAT).  Participants learned about how YWAT has used youth-led participatory action research as a basis of its community organizing to end violence against young women and girls since 2003.  The workshop underscored the value of involving youth as leaders in research and in gender violence prevention.

Lillian was joined in facilitating the workshop by adult ally, Mariame Kaba.  The workshop was part of “Engaging Youth as Agents of Change: Youth Development Summit” sponsored by the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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Youth Leaders Challenge School Pushout

On Saturday October 16th, YWAT leadership core member Lillian Matanmi moderated a panel called “Youth Voices Challenge the School to Prison Pipeline.” She also presented information about the YWAT’s Suspension Stories Project.

This event was part of the National Week of Action on School Pushout organized by the Dignity in Schools Campaign. Our ally, Project NIA, organized the panel as part of the Cradle to College Pipeline Summit sponsored by the Mansfield Institute on Social Justice and Transformation. This was a terrific example of several organizations coming together to address a very serious issue that is affecting thousands of youth across the country.

The Dignity in Schools Campaign put together a great short video highlighting the Chicago events that took place during the Week of Action and featured the Youth Voices event.

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