April 30, 2009 – The Teen Relationship Education and Empowerment (TREE) program has had several successful events in its first four months. These include a workshop with 10 churches represented, drama performances and others.
A faith-based initiative against teen relationship violence, TREE was founded in December 2008 with a $50,000 grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health. The grant went to a coalition of local churches, community health professionals and University of Missouri to create programming to help Columbia churches address teen relationship violence. Columbia’s Broadway Christian Church submitted the grant, with project development and administrative support from University of Missouri’s Center on Religion & the Professions.
The project kicked off with a Feb. 22 workshop with about 40 people gathering to learn about teen relationship violence, resources, and how religious communities can address the issue and help teens involved in violent relationships.
Recent local events include:
- Rock Bridge Christian Church – Parent/teen program, March 29
- Broadway Christian Church – Integration of “Choose Respect” video/curriculum into junior high “lock-in” event, April 4-5
- Troubling Violence Performance Project performance for TREE members and supporters, April 15
- Unitarian Universalist Church – Troubling Violence Performance Project performance for Our Whole Lives program, April 19
- TREE participants attended Green Dot Prevent Strategy workshop with sexual and domestic violence educator Dr. Dorothy Edwards, April 21-23
- Calvary Episcopal Church – Four-part series for their youth, April-May
- Steve McMullen, RAVE (Religion and Violence E-learning) team leader from New Brunswick, Canada, presented on the RAVE project to participating TREE churches and supporters, April 25
- Calvary Episcopal Church – Troubling Violence Performance Project visit to youth group, April 26
- Calvary Episcopal Church – Troubling Violence Performance Project performance, May 3
- TREE representative speaks to the MU Council Against Violence Against Women, May 5, noon, Library Conference Room 159, University of Missouri
TREE representatives have additionally met with several church groups to talk about their event planning. Events are intended to grow from the February workshop and TREE resources, which include a lending library housed at The Communications Center, 1905 Cherry Hill Dr., Columbia. Participating churches and TREE representatives will meet again in June to share and brainstorm.
A Web site about TREE including links to resources will be available soon. New groups continue to want to be involved with the program, TREE Project Coordinator Kendra Yoder said.
The Missouri Foundation for Health grant was part of MFH’s Health Interventions in Non-Traditional Settings funding program, which provides two-year grants to faith-based and small secular organizations that address health needs in their communities.