break up summit (BUS)

The Start Strong Boston Break Up Summit centers around creating discussions and tools that can be used to engender conversations around healthy relationships and breakup promotion and media literacy. The annual summits are aimed at preventing dating violence among teenagers in Boston and increasing their understanding of what constitutes a healthy breakup and do forward-thinking on how they would like to engage in a healthy breakup. These summits:

  • are co-designed by teen Peer Leaders and Start Strong staff;

  • use cutting-edge technology to reach out to young people;

  • use pop culture trends and imagery that are meaningful to teens;

  • promote a positive message about healthy relationships, conflict resolution, and communication.


In the Summer of 2010, Start Strong Boston held the first Break Up Summit, bringing together teens from across the City of Boston to have conversations around how to engage in healthy breakups. We created a series of tools to help facilitate conversations around the issue. To date, we have helped organizations in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and Louisville, KY host summits in their locales.


The Summit is a coming-together of young people from around the City of Boston to discuss how to engage in a healthy breakup. It runs from 10am to 3pm. In the morning, all participants attend Break Ups 101, which focuses on developing a common framework for all participants on what constitutes a healthy breakup and the theme for that year. In the afternoon, the adults and teens attend workshops in different tracks that further the conversation. All workshops are 90 minutes. We opted for longer durations because we are aiming to shift value systems and not just share information. Ninety minutes give participants more time to dialogue about the issues and their challenges with the healthy breakup framework we are presenting.

Break Up Summit Modifications

Start Strong Boston hosts the Break Up summit annually in July, with an annual attendance of roughly 200 young people and 50 adults. Our limitations are based on fiscal and logistical capacities. In order to increase outreach and capacity we conduct workshops throughout the academic year in-school and out-of-school time settings. We have modified our workshops down to fit a 50-minute window. In the early years of Start Strong, we facilitated a summit via webinar across all Start Strong sites around the country. Below are the following ways the summit can be modified to fit different environments:

School Workshops: The Summit workshops can be administered in separate class periods or workshop times. Break Ups 101 would be the sentinel workshop to kick off the series and can be followed up with a choice of workshops related to the theme. Each Summit has 5 workshops centered around a theme. 

Video Webinars: The Summit can be conducted via video conference. The activities can be modified to give sites a chance to conduct the activity and then present via video conferencing. There are other technologies that can be woven in, such as polling via text, submission of video projects before and after the webinar, etc.

In-Person Summits: Start Strong staff can train staff of various organizations to use the workshop materials at their site. In a series of video and phone conference calls, we can work to tailor the workshops to the teens in their community and prepare them to facilitate the workshops on the day of the event.

“Healthy Break Up” MaterialsStart Strong staff work continuously and collaboratively with our teens to create Break Up Summit themes that align with the needs and trends among their peers. Themes have included Break Ups and Social Media, "Situation-ships," as well as Break Ups and Gender. With each Summit, we create and use tools that help facilitate the dialogue around issues, such as U R Breaking Up?! and Reflect and Relate. The strengths of the tools are that they can be used by anyone regardless of age, race, or sexual orientation. After each Summit, our goal is to continue disseminating these tools through the internet, social marketing avenues, community contacts, as well as other traditional sources such as print media.

If you or your program would like to learn how to host a Break Up Summit for your teens, feel free to contact us at!