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Melrose student and violence prevention director to speak at White House

Posted by Christina Jedra  February 26, 2013 02:34 PM

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A Melrose High School student and a representative from the Melrose Safe STEPS for Teens Project will speak at the White House Thursday, Feb. 28 on the topic of teen dating violence.

Project Director Rebecca Mooney [pictured left] and Student Action Board member Zeke Vainer [right] were invited to the special event that marks Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. They will share their thoughts on teen dating violence prevention programs in schools and speak from experience about the prevention initiative in Melrose. 

Earlier this year, the school united with the Melrose Alliance Against Violence and was one a nine schools in the country to receive a $465,440 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice for violence prevention programs over the next three years. The school held a kick-off event on Feb. 5 that hosted speakers and invited students to participate in a video project where they defined what “Love is,” and what “Love isn’t.”

Later that week, Melrose hosted Sharon Love and Sharon Robinson, mother and cousin of 2010 dating violence victim Yeardley Love. The women shared their story with Melrose High School students and offered their advice for preventing violence in relationships. They also encouraged the use of the One Love app that gauges the potential danger in an abusive relationship and provides resources for help. 

“What we’re trying to do is create a change in the culture in Melrose,” said Holly Staples, a Melrose High teacher who advises the Student Action Board, at the assembly. 

Vainer, a member of the club that helped organize the One Love assembly, said at the event that learning the signs of abuse is vital. 

“This grant is important to us,” he said. “It’s spreading [awareness] to the community.” 

The audience at the White House includes other high school groups, college groups from Vice-President Joe Biden’s youth initiative, adult representatives from violence prevention groups, parents of violence victims, counselors’ associations, principals, nurses, and federal government leaders. 

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