Blue Ridge Job Corps Center

Blue Ridge Job Corps Y2Y Week 2018

September 28th, 2018

Throughout the week of September 17 – 21, 2018, Job Corps Centers across the nation participated in the annual Y2Y week, and Blue Ridge Job Corps was no exception. Youth 2 Youth, Partners 4 Peace is an initiative created by Job Corps students in 2015 to take action around the issue of preventing violence in the United States. The official Y2Y website states it best when discussing students’ role in this initiative: “They are talking about violence and aggression. They are learning about how their peers have been affected by youth violence. They are empowering one another to make a difference. And, most importantly, they are suggesting solutions.” This year, there were a variety of events both on and off-center for Blue Ridge students to celebrate Y2Y week and make a difference in the community.
On Monday, September 17, and Wednesday, September 19, Blue Ridge Job Corps students volunteered at Marion Elementary School as a part of their after-school program. These students help a discussion with a group of 4th graders about bullying in an outside of school. They urged the elementary school students to always treat others with kindness, even if they may look, speak, or dress differently. “Treat others the way you want to be treated,” said Cheyenne Adams, Y2Y committee member.
On Tuesday, September 18, Kasey Salyers, the Director of Social Services at Valley Health Care came to center as a guest speaker. In her line of work, she deals with a type of domestic violence that isn’t typically thought about: elder abuse. She stated that unfortunately, elder abuse is more common that people think, and the offenders are usually a member of the person’s family. Abuse can be physical, but often times it can emotional or psychological as well. Since students at Blue Ridge are training for careers in the medical field, Ms. Salyers told them that they would likely encounter patients who have endured abuse, and that it is so important practice empathy and care at all times.
One of the primary goals of Y2Y week is for Job Corps students to connect with other students in the community to discuss anti-violence and promote peace. On Thursday, September 20, staff and students from Blue Ridge Job Corps traveled to Marion Senior High School to participate in a Unity Walk, with everyone joining together to show solidarity. To further fit the theme of Y2Y Week 2018, “Students Standing Together,” everyone was encouraged to wear white, a color often associated with peace. To begin the assembly, Y2Y committee member Nakia Turner addressed all staff and students from both schools. She gave an overview of the Y2Y initiative, and stated, “all students deserve the right to learn in a safe environment,” which is one reason why promoting peace is so important. Nakia then introduced guest speakers John Clair, Chief of Police for the Town of Marion, and Lieutenant Mark Harrington of the Smyth County Sheriff’s Office. Both speakers discussed the seriousness of bullying and violence, and though it may seem small at the time, bullying can have lasting negative effects on those involved. Chief Clair compelled everyone in attendance to actively speak out against bullying when it is seen, instead of standing by and allowing it to happen. “Character,” he stated, “is who you are when nobody else is looking.” Next up was the unity walk, as all students intermingled and walked as one from the school down to the football field for a Y2Y demonstration. Many ideas were discussed for this year’s demonstration, but the ultimate decision were two stick figures “standing together” around a peace sign, symbolizing that we all play a role in promoting peace in our communities.
Other events throughout the week included a poster contest focusing on anti-violence and anti-bullying, as well as a Y2Y trivia contest focusing on statistics related to these issues. Blue Ridge Job Corps Business Community Liaison, Jordan Loupe express gratitude to all involved saying, “Youth 2 Youth: Partners 4 Peace focuses on issues that are so important in today’s society. I am so grateful to the staff and students at Marion Senior High School, our guest speakers, and of course our amazing students and staff at Blue Ridge for making Y2Y Week 2018 such as massive success.”