UNION CITY — An organization that serves victims of domestic, dating and stalking violence in rural areas of Erie County is about to hit the road in providing services and prevention programs to the region's youth.
Safe Journey of Union City received funding through the United Way of Erie County and the Erie Community Foundation to purchase a mobile outreach van that it will debut at a news conference at the Corry Area Intermediate School on Wednesday morning. The van will be used for mobile awareness and prevention programs, called "Violence Free Begins With Me," presented at area parks, playgrounds and neighborhoods as an extension of in-school programs already offered.
"It's really bringing the services to them," said Lori Palisin, executive director of Safe Journey and a member of the Rural Erie County Domestic Violence Task Force.
The van is an outreach of programs implemented and developed through a federal grant that Safe Journey received through the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women last fall. The grant was used to increase victim counseling and prevention programs in local schools and at agencies that serve youth.
Officials said at the time the grant was announced in October that Safe Journey could not purchase a mobile outreach vehicle under the grant, but that the United Way and Erie Community Foundation had pledged to provide funds to buy a vehicle if the federal grant was received.
The van showcases the programs Safe Journey provides in the schools, and it will be a visual reminder of those programs to children who see it in their neighborhoods, Palisin said. The van can be taken to community events, including county and community fairs, to spread awareness of the various prevention campaigns, such as bystander intervention, engaging men as allies and victim services available in the community, according to program officials.
"What we're really focusing on is our ability to help children and youth who experience domestic violence," Palisin said. "It's really a comprehensive program that starts in pre-K and goes up to high school. When they see these characters (on the van's external graphics) they will be reminded of these tools to help them identify and to take in what they've learned."
She said what she and others involved in the prevention programs are fighting are statistics that show that 15 million children each year experience domestic violence, a woman is abused every 8 seconds, and one in three women and one in seven men experience domestic violence.
"Giving them the tools and support on how to handle the emotional trauma they are experiencing, that is really important," she said.
Tim Hahn can be reached at 870-1731 or by email. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ETNhahn.