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Contest is part of United Services Domestic Violence Program’s Youth Outreach Program

WILLIMANTIC – Voting is now open on a Healthy Relationship Poster Contest by local teens at the Willimantic Public Library. Voting opened Monday and will continue until June 7 on five posters created by local students enrolled in United Services Domestic Violence Program’s Teen Healthy Relationship Certificate Course.

The 20-hour course, funded by the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut’s Windham Women and Girls Fund, included education on personal power and control, harmful dating behaviors and tactics, victim blaming, why ending a relationship can be difficult, healthy alternatives, positive communication, ways to help or support someone in a teen dating violence relationship.

“I’m so proud of the student’s willingness to learn about this complex social problem that, while prevalent in our communities, often goes unaddressed,” said Julie Hoagland, LCSW, Domestic Violence Program Manager. “The students are already using the information to advocate for their peers and community members.”

Hoagland said the poster contest is an opportunity for students to advocate against domestic violence and promote healthy relationships in the community.

“This group brought a very diverse group of students together to have real discussions about relationships. It’s been great to hear all of the different perspectives,” said Nina Shea, Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT) School Social Worker.

The poster contest will conclude with a presentation of the powerful workshop, “In Their Shoes: Teens and Dating Violence,” and an announcement of the contest winners on Tuesday June 7 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Library. In Their Shoes is an interactive presentation that explores the experience of teen dating violence victims. All adults and teens are welcome to participate.

“We are delighted to have the chance to partner with United Services and students on this project and to help raise awareness of this important issue,” said Drusilla Carter, director of the Willimantic Public Library. “I hope that members of the community will stop by the library to see the posters – and to vote for their favorite!”

United Services operates the only Domestic Violence program in the region, providing 24/7 access to emergency shelter for women and children in crisis, as well as counseling, advocacy, social service and case management services to both sheltered and non-sheltered women (and their children) who are working to become free of an abusive relationship and rebuild their lives in a safe, healthy environment. The program’s Youth Outreach Program, which works with local schools and community groups, is an effort to break the pervasive cycle of violence within families and the local community.

United Services 24/7 Domestic Violence hotline can be reached at (860) 456-9476, (860) 774-8648 or toll-free at (888) 774-2900.