February 1, 2023

Mission Moment – Prevention Efforts


At its core, violence prevention is about ending cycles of abuse. YWCA Spokane’s prevention efforts focus on doing this with teens by “Holding space to have conversations with teenagers about relationships that they don’t normally have with adults in their lives,” according to Lizbeth Reyes, Prevention Coordinator. She sees the Prevention Team as being at the forefront of this work and applauds the team for their role in shifting the culture around violence.

What does prevention look like?

Our Prevention Team works with various community schools and partners to provide healthy relationship education to students ranging from 13-18 years old. During the 2022-2023 school year, Prevent Team facilitators are working with Rogers HS, The Community School, and Lumen HS. A location may choose to host the facilitators for one class or multiple classes with facilitators coming in weekly or as frequently as needed over an academic quarter or period of months. YWCA Prevention Team facilitators can provide anywhere between 3 to 10 weeks of curriculum, depending on each location’s capacity for the number of sessions.

A successful session to Lizbeth would be when students engage with the curriculum and ask a lot of questions. She sees the sessions as an opportunity for the students and facilitators to learn from each other during an open conversation about different relationship aspects.

Healthy Roots

Over the last six months, Lizbeth and the Prevention Team have been developing YWCA Spokane’s own healthy relationship curriculum. While facilitating Safe Dates, the Prevention Team facilitators noticed there were extra topics the teens wanted to engage with and explore in more detail. Lizbeth and the team wanted the curriculum to be more trauma-informed because they recognized that “the teens are already heavily exposed to trauma, having witnessed domestic violence or experienced dating abuse themselves.” They also recognized that developing their own curriculum would allow for more flexibility and help shift the style of facilitation from a lecture by adults to a discussion with adults. The team also enjoys using tools like bingo or Kahoot! games to make the heavy conversations more approachable.

So where did the name come from?

“We are a connected community,” states Lizbeth. Just like how trees are connected through their root system, we know our entire community is impacted by teen dating violence. If we are able to establish healthy behaviors, we can later branch out and have healthy connections with others.

“Roots are our cultural backgrounds, upbringings, and experiences. To break generational cycles, we have to first examine our generational trauma. If our roots are under-watered, under-exposed, and under-nurtured, it’s harder for us to grow into healthy trees.”

Learn more about Healthy Roots.

What’s next?

Lizbeth Reyes and the Prevention Team look forward to launching the new Healthy Roots curriculum soon and continuing these powerful conversations. February is also nationally recognized as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Follow us on Instagram for more education on healthy relationships.

Lizbeth is also supporting YWCA Spokane’s new Teen Council, which meets every other Tuesday at YWCA Spokane (930 N Monroe) from 3:30-5:00pm. Teens who are interested in helping to shape how our community talks about dating abuse and works to foster healthy teen relationships should consider joining! You can learn more about the Teen Council at ywcaspokane.org/teencouncil.

Check out our Pathways Forward roundtable discussion, moderated by Lizbeth Reyes, on prevention efforts with local leaders.


By: Jemma Riedel-Johnson

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