In October, an advocate from the Family Violence Project created Joe The Up-Stander, a character who speaks up when he witnesses violence, as a part of the group’s participation in Domestic Violence Awareness Month. On Sunday, the organization is partnering with the Unitarian Universalist Community Church for a family event at the Buker Community Center in Augusta.

The “Power of One: Be an Upstander, not a Bystander” program hopes to “empower the children, their families and our community to respond to violence and help create safer, healthier and peaceful communities,” according to a press release from the organizers.

Nan Bell, the outreach coordinator for the Family Violence Project, said the idea is to educate people, especially children, to speak up and not be silent.

“If you are recognizing violence, there are ways that you can help,” Bell said. She said the school-based Power of One program teaches kids to speak up and say something when they see violence, especially bullying.

“We want to educate them on when it is safe to speak up, who they can talk to and what they can do,” Bell said. “It isn’t about telling on somebody, but it is about speaking up when somebody is hurt and then lending a helping hand.”

The Rev. Carie Johnsen of the Unitarian Universalist Community Church said she has witnessed people in the community “hungry for ways they can positively engage in building relationships with each other and connections with each other that have value and meaning.”

Johnsen said the partnership between her church and the Family Violence Project works because “the principles they teach are the principles that lead us.”

The program Sunday afternoon will include interactive workshops and educational activities about bullying, respectful connections, healthy relationships and teen dating, elder care abuse and compassionate, non-violent communication.

“Rather than just talking about it all the time, let’s put it into practice,” Bell said. “People need direction about what they can do to be proactive, and it’s great to be able to promote something this way.”

She said the organization’s mission is to stop domestic violence, and a big step in that quest is to educate and use what you learn. She cautioned, however, that domestic violence isn’t going to end anytime soon.

“If you can get more people to understand what they can do, we can make our community safer,” she said. “Unless we get involved, it probably won’t get better, and it probably will get worse.”

The event is being promoted as a family event, and organizers are encouraging adults to attend the workshops with their children or attend another workshop on their own.

“We want to set examples of how we can promote conversation that would allow people to speak the truth without doing damage that leaves someone else broken,” Johnsen said. “What greater way to do that than to give people of all ages the resources and tools to engage in building relationships across divides and across opinions. We hope that each person will go home Sunday with one more tool in their tool box.”

The “Power of One” program starts at 12:30 p.m. and will be completed with enough time for people to get home to watch the Super Bowl, which starts at 6:30 p.m., Bell said. A cafe lunch will be available.

The Buker Community Center is located at 22 Armory St. in Augusta.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

 


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