More than 600 New Jersey teens gathered at Rutgers University on Saturday (June 4) for the launch of Training Camps for Life, a partnership of the NFL Players Association, A CALL TO MEN and the Verizon Foundation.
The half-day, NFL-star-studded event at Rutgers University addressed topics such as overcoming adversity, decisions and consequences, and healthy teen relationships - a critical addition to the Training Camps for Life agenda. The event was the first of 12 sessions that will be held across the country this year. They are funded through a $250,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation to A CALL TO MEN, an internationally recognized men's organization addressing domestic and sexual violence prevention.
Studies have shown that one in three teens experiences relationship abuse and nearly half - 47 percent - report having done something that compromised their values to appease their partner.
"As a professional athlete I have to build healthy, respectful relationships every day," said Chris Canty, NFL defensive tackle and founder of the Chris Canty Foundation. "Through Training Camps for Life, we have an opportunity to educate and empower teens to respect themselves and others."
At the core of this education program is the notion of a healthy and respectful manhood. A CALL TO MEN will work with Training Camps for Life participants to challenge the attitudes and beliefs about what it means to be a man. Teens will examine popular culture through a lens of respect and equality, and dissect lyrics of current hip-hop tracks to understand the concept of male privilege. They will also learn to identify the nuances of abuse - like flirting vs. harassment - and understand when and how to seek help.
Male and female high school students attending the sessions will have the option to take the LIVERESPECT pledge at www.liverespect.org, a commitment to end teen relationship abuse and speak out against domestic violence.
"These camps, designed to help teens build strong values and important life skills, are a perfect setting to start building a coalition of men and boys to help break the cycle of violence," said Rose Stuckey Kirk, Verizon Foundation president. "With this important message of non-violence coming from the players the children idolize, our vision of a world without domestic fear will begin to take root."
Following each Training Camp for Life, A CALL TO MEN will visit the high schools of the participating student to continue the training with an in-class curriculum designed to:
- Help teens heal from past abuse.
- Raise expectations for equality and respect in relationships.
- Increase safety on school campuses.
- Promote youth leadership in violence prevention.
"Each Training Camp for Life has the potential to shift societal norms about relationships and what it means to become a man," said Ted Bunch, co-founder of A CALL TO MEN. "The in-school curriculum will dive deep into these issues so that students walk away with a renewed concept of manhood, a thorough understanding of what is and isn't abuse, how to get help, and how to help others."
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 starting in the fall in Pittsburgh, Tampa, Boston, Dallas, San Diego, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta.
George Atallah, assistant executive director of external affairs for the NFL Players Association, said, "Training Camps for Life offer unique opportunities for our players to impact their communities by working directly with teens on a variety of important life lessons. We are proud to team with Verizon and A CALL TO MEN to affect positive change in our country's youth."
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. In 2010, the foundation awarded nearly $67 million to nonprofit agencies in the U.S. and abroad. Through Verizon Volunteers, one of the nation's largest employee volunteer programs, Verizon employees and retirees have volunteered nearly 6 million hours of community service since 2000. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizon.com/responsibility.
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.
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 mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, with more than 104 million total connections nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers seamless business solutions to customers around the world. A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 196,000 and last year generated consolidated revenues of $106.6 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.
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