By Maria LimonMaría Limón | End Violence Fostering Youth Leadership Specialist, Center on Domestic Violence Jul 11, 2021
“Excuse me, María, may I say something?” said A, a high school senior who oozes compassion as a way of living the teachings of her faith. “It’s not okay for you to say you hate yourself. That’s not alright.”
I stopped in my tracks, and I lost it.
Ten days prior, Team Unstoppable, a group of youth leaders from three high schools in Denver had decided upon their shared values. Love made the list; I offered that love is more than a feeling. It is an action.
“Love means not letting anybody believe the lies that any form of oppression promotes about others or ourselves,” I said. Everyone agreed to that definition in a discussion that lasted less than one minute.
A few seconds was all it took for A to apply one of the operating principles the team had determined best embodied love as a shared value. She deftly took a sledgehammer to the toxic narratives that invade my brain. It is a good thing that Team Unstoppable’s culture allows for feelings—mine as well as theirs.
My job is to support youth leaders promoting relationships based on mutual dignity and respect for the End Violence project of the UC Denver Center on Domestic Violence. The End Violence team collaborates with our partners at various high schools who promote the youth leadership project and identify participants.
The school year culminated with a two-week intensive organizing event with youth leaders where they determined their shared values; developed their mission statement; and decided on a name.
I will share the highlights of my work with Team Unstoppable and the staff at our partner schools in regular blog posts over the next few weeks. I hope I can do everyone justice; their contributions to the work of ending violence are awe-inspiring.
I may suggest an amendment to my job description. ‘Grow an extra heart and brain to accommodate the brilliance and determination exhibited by youth leaders and the project’s community partners’. HR will surely agree to the change.