Newsletter: Victim, Survivor, Leader
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Exciting things are happening this summer! First off, GEMS has premiered a new and entirely survivor-written Victim, Survivor, Leader training curriculum. We’ve been highlighting the great work that direct service providers can provide to victims of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking, and the trainings have been going really well. I feel incredibly proud to be co-facilitating a totally survivor-written curriculum about our Victim, Survivor, Leader model with two incredible survivor leaders.
Last month, we celebrated the achievements of GEMS members who are participating in our Educational Initiative program. It was such a moving night, and I’m so proud of all of our girls who are furthering their education.
GEMS also just selected six amazing candidates for our intensive, summer Youth Leadership program. Congrats to our members for making it through a tough selection process! I’m excited to see them learn and grow this summer, and their commitment to supporting their peers is really inspiring. They are the next generation of leaders!
Big thanks to all who came out for End CSEC Day! It was a great day with a great turn out of supporters. It was good to see family and friends, meet new people, and, most important, to hear our young women share what it means to survive CSEC.
As always, thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
Founder & Executive Director
New, Survivor-Written Training Curriculum!
GEMS Founder and Executive Director, along with the Survivor Leadership Coordinator Sheila White and Youth Outreach Worker Tiffany Rivera, premiered a new, entirely survivor-written Victim, Survivor, Leader training curriculum for direct service providers. This curriculum, funded by the Office for Victims of Crime, is based on two foundational principles that shape and guide all of GEMS’ work: survivor leadership and “transformational relationships,” which have been proven necessary for effective youth development.
Sheila says, “It’s so important for service providers to understand that CSEC survivors need to move beyond being victims, and not keep survivors in that box. Survivors need to be presented with the opportunity to take on leadership roles and be able to build confidence from their natural talents and strengths.”
“CSEC victims can be made to feel like criminals if they are only provided housing with lots of rules,” says Tiffany. “To break the cycle, to get out of the life, victims need real services, and they need to be able to have enough independence to test the waters.” The training recognizes that relapse is a normal part of recovery.
This new curriculum helps agencies already experienced in working with commercially sexually exploited youth to enhance their services by examining programming from a survivor’s perspective, understanding the effectiveness and necessity of survivor empowerment, and learning to engage youth through direct service techniques like motivational interviewing.
A Victim, Survivor, Leader training manual will be available in the next few months!
Interested in finding out more about how the law can help trafficking victims? Check out Rachel’s piece, coauthored with Katherine Mullen from the Legal Aid Society, called “The Passage of the Safe Harbor Act and the Voices of Sexually Exploited Youth” in the Lawyer’s Manual on Human Trafficking, which was put together by outspoken allies to educate and equip lawyers and others working in the legal system to find justice for trafficking victims.
Highlights & Happenings
Samantha came to GEMS in 2001 and was part of the program for several years, struggling with stability and exiting the commercial sex industry. GEMS maintained contact with Samantha and never stopped telling her that she was loved and precious, and that we believed in her ability to recover and heal. Last year, Samantha re-engaged as a full member and enrolled in the Educational Initiatives (EI) program.In this year’s EI ceremony, Samantha was honored for obtaining her Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assistant, and she is enrolling at the Borough of Manhattan Community College to work toward a Bachelor’s degree in nursing. A caring, enthusiastic, and energetic person, Samantha is also one of the six candidates in this summer’s intensive Youth Leadership program.
Samantha always brings a positive attitude, and is very interested in deepening her knowledge about her nursing degree and the intersections of social systems and their impact on CSEC. She is a tremendous role model!
The seven-week version of the Youth Leadership program began this month! Six GEMS members are meeting twice a week and participating in a concurrent internship to develop public-speaking and community-organizing skills through outreach, events, advocacy, and media work to serve the national movement to end CSEC as peer mentors and community educators.
New Groups for Members
This summer, GEMS is kicking off a number of new groups, including Act Out, where members have the opportunity to experiment with and learn more about acting; and a radio-recording workshop, where participants listen to other radio shows that are produced by young people, learn the basics of recording and reporting for a radio show with digitial recorders and microphones, and get a CD with their recording to keep! Photo credit: Pixomar
Graduation and Member Accomplishments
June 30 was graduation day for GEMS’ participants in the Educational Initiative program, which provides financial incentives for survivors of commercial sexual exploitation to obtain their high school diplomas, GEDs, Associate’s degrees, and Bachelor’s degrees. We had such a great time celebrating each of our graduates and their amazing accomplishments!
We are delighted to report that one of our members completed her certification to be a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor, two completed requirements for medical assistant certification, five earned their GEDs, two graduated from high school, and seven more completed college semesters.
Big thanks to the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center for hosting the celebration, and to spoken-word poets NeNe Ali and True Poetess for giving such inspiring performances!
End CSEC Day
We had a fantastic time in Central Park for our sixth annual End CSEC Day! Hundreds of people, including interested passersby and long-time supporters, stopped by to celebrate with the GEMS team as members and staff shared pieces they’d written on this year’s theme, Girls Like Us, highlighting the common ground that we all–survivors and allies alike–stand on. Shared pieces included powerful poems and stories, a beautiful a capella song, and striking posters made by members. Thank you to all who came out; we hope to see you again next year!
Shout Out to Staff!
Shout out to Youth Development Coordinator Karen Zaremba and Youth Outreach Worker Tysheena Rhames for their hard work to support the Educational Initiatives program! You’re doing such inspiring work!
GEMS in the News
– South Seattle Beacon
Tags: Betty Shabazz, curriculum, Educational Initiative, End CSEC Day, Family Court Advocacy, Kalima DeSuze, Karen Zaremba, Katherine Mullen, Lawyer's Manual on Human Trafficking, Leader, Malcolm X, NeNe Ali, Sheila White, Survivor, Tiffany Rivera, True Poetess, Tysheena Rhames, Victim, VSL, Youth Leadership
Wednesday, July 27th, 2011, 1:45 pm
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