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Teen PeaceWorks

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Since its inception three years ago by PeaceWorks (DVCC’s educational program) and several area high school students, Teen PeaceWorks has become an important and dynamic advocacy group providing information about teen dating violence and domestic violence. Teen PeaceWorks are student led groups interested in raising awareness about the issue of interpersonal violence and maintaining healthy relationships. Members provide activities and information within their schools and communities, especially during Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month in February and Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. The activities are facilitated by the teens, with PeaceWorks staff available for guidance. Groups have been established for several years in Darien High School, Wilton High School, Weston High School and Stamford Academy. PeaceWorks staff and students are working this summer to create Teen PeaceWorks groups in New Canaan High School and Staples High School in Westport.

For Marianne Goodell, an internship as the point person and coordinator for Teen PeaceWorks   seems the perfect match. Goodell has been involved with youth groups in Westport for many years, serving on the Westport Youth Commission, the Positive Development Committee and as Co-president of the Westport PTA Council. Currently she is back in school herself as a graduate student working toward a Masters Degree in Oral Traditions at the Graduate Institute in Bethany, CT.

“I had done a lot of work around bullying and became increasingly aware that change would have to come from the kids themselves,” she said. “If they don’t buy in that a behavior like bullying or dating abuse isn’t acceptable, it won’t change.”

Part of what Goodell hopes to do with her degree is to use stories and storytelling to help give voice to issues in order to bring about change. In late June she met with several Teen PeaceWorks members from various high schools to begin planning for the upcoming year and to better understand what projects and activities had worked in the past to raise awareness about dating violence amongst their classmates.

“I am interested in what interests the teens, what pulls them in and what doesn’t,” she said after the meeting. “They have such energy and passion and are the best ones to engage their peers.”