1,000 Teenage Boys in Milwaukee Pledge to End Relationship Violence

One thousand teenage boys from Alexander Hamilton High School in Milwaukee gathered on Tuesday (Oct. 18) for Training Camps for Life, a partnership of the National Football League Players Association, A CALL TO MEN and the Verizon Foundation.

The half-day, NFL-star-studded event addressed topics such as overcoming adversity, decisions and consequences, and healthy teen relationships - a critical addition to the Training Camps for Life agenda. 

[For broadcast quality b-roll: http://inr.synapticdigital.com/verizonfoundation/trainingcampsforlife/]

Studies have shown that one in three teens experiences relationship abuse.  Additionally, nearly half - 47 percent - report having done something that compromised their values to appease their partner.

"A healthy relationship is built on respect - respect for your boyfriend or girlfriend - and respect for yourself," said Frank Zombo, linebacker for the Green Bay Packers.  "If we can increase and promote healthy relationships, we will prevent relationship violence." 

Zombo was joined by fellow Green Bay Packer Desmond Bishop, retired Packer Blaise Winter, former Wisconsin Badger and retired Cleveland Brown Tarek Saleh, and Richie Armstrong, a former NCAA standout.  The 1,000 teenage boys and participating professional athletes took the LIVERESPECT pledge (www.liverespect.org), a commitment to end teen relationship violence and speak out against domestic violence. 

T.J. Fox, region president for Verizon Wireless, said, "The NFL players do an amazing job talking to teens and getting them to understand why it's important to commit themselves to healthy relationships, but we knew we had to do more. As part of Training Camps for Life, the Verizon Foundation funds A CALL TO MEN to go back into participating schools with a healthy relationships curriculum designed specifically for these teens so that we produce real and lasting change." 

The in-class curriculum is designed to:

  • Help teens heal from past abuse.
  • Improve equality and respect in relationships.
  • Increase safety on school campuses.
  • Promote youth leadership in violence prevention.

"Teens are an exceptionally vulnerable group - one in three teens experiences violence in relationships, higher than adult women or men," said Ted Bunch, co-founder of A CALL TO MEN.  "But because 85 percent of victims of violence are women, we focus on educating men and boys about healthy relationships and breaking down cultural influences like hip-hop music and advertising to achieve a more balanced and equal society." 

George Atallah, assistant executive director of external affairs for the NFL Players Association, said, "There's no denying that teens really look up to NFL players, which makes Training Camps for Life the perfect setting to promote the message of respect and nonviolence. The program reinforces important life skills such as how to overcome adversity, decisions and consequences, and having a plan for your life." 

Partnering with the NFL Players Association on the Training Camps for Life program is part of the Verizon Foundation's strategy to engage men and teens in helping end domestic violence.  Additional camps will be held this year in New Orleans (Nov. 15), Boston (Dec. 9), and San Francisco (at a date to be determined).  The program will run throughout 2012. 

The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon, uses its technology, financial resources and partnerships to address critical social issues, with a focus on education and domestic violence prevention.  Verizon supports survivors of domestic violence through the Verizon HopeLine® program. Through HopeLine, no-longer-used wireless phones are collected and recycled or refurbished to support domestic violence survivors. Since 2001, more than 8 million wireless phones have been collected, and awarded more than $10 million in cash grants to domestic violence agencies and organizations throughout the country. Verizon has invested more than $28 million in domestic violence prevention.  For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizonfoundation.org.

About NFL Players Association
The National Football League Players Association is a professional association under Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code. The objectives of the Association are: to improve the business conditions of professional football players in the National Football League, including enhancing, protecting and defending their right to contract by attacking, legally challenging and\or eliminating any limitations or restrictions on the right to freely contract for services as professional football players; to create opportunities for players to enhance off-the-field income during their playing careers and after their retirement from football; and, to enable and encourage players to engage in charitable and civic activities to benefit their communities.

A CALL TO MEN is a leading national men's organization addressing domestic and sexual violence prevention and the promotion of healthy manhood.  For more information, visit www.acalltomen.org

About Verizon
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, NASDAQ:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, with more than 106 million total connections nationwide.  Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of nearly 196,000 and last year generated consolidated revenues of $106.6 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.