For the past 2 years I’ve been a Peer Leader 34 days a week in a program called Start Strong based out of the Boston Public Health Commission that works to promote healthy relationships and prevent dating violence among teens and adolescents. We delve into topics that vary from trauma, pornography, and government; recognizing their prominent roles in today’s society and the minds of our youth. But the depth of what we do comes into play on Wednesdays.
There’s about 25 of us who lead the lives of Peer Leaders; we’re assigned to different community centers throughout the city and disseminate the philosophy we’ve been trained to teach. Over a course of 16 weeks, we inform inner-city youth about the benefits and relevance of healthy relationships and self-advocacy. We explore the possibility of a sex positive world and how race, class, and gender specifically influence the LGBTQ community. This is a line of work that saves lives. And through it, these children absorb, interpret, and learn to live healthier lives, despite the environments in which they find themselves. We erect bonds with each and every child; making them a part of our lives just as much as we are now a part of theirs. Through Start Strong, we’re able to rehabilitate the coming generations and ensure a better tomorrow. I’ve found so much of who I am while working with Start Strong and can’t imagine the person I’d be without them. They’re my family. And from the dealings with my own trauma, I know of the undetectable masses, aimlessly wandering throughout life, fragmented and hindered by innumerable burdens they feel cannot be surmounted. And now, I’m trained not only to identify, but support that slighted influx. I hope that wherever this path takes me, I can assemble a unit that serves as a safe space to those in need and an informant for whomever seeks service. I aspire to make that connection and leave an impact of ineffable magnitude at your institution, just as Start Strong has for me. This passion is in no way related to the coursework in which I wish to pursue in my collegiate career but is of equal if not exceeding importance. Domestic/sexual violence and abuse are affairs of comparable significance to those such as homelessness and poverty. Epidemics that sweep not only our nation, but the 196 countries that form this Earth. And out of all those people, it only takes one; to break the rose colored glasses we’ve all become accustomed tousling and shed some light on the gore that is reality. One to repudiate the ways of a patriarchal hegemonic society that has become our norm. Someone has to provide a voice to those who’ve been silenced, someone has to pave the way, and today, that someone is going to be me.