Empowered Youth Become Empowered Adults

Text reads Staff Corner: Deanna. Deanna wears a jean jacket and smiles at the camera with her cheek resting on a hand.

This Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, we wanted to celebrate and uplift the youth empowerment work of an amazing staff member! Through our Say Something Youth Initiative, Deanna works with teens year-round to develop the skills needed to lead social change.

Read more about her and her work below!


Name: Deanna

Pronouns: she/her

Job title: Youth Prevention and Outreach Coordinator

Fun fact: In September 2023 I got a chance to take one of my dream vacations to Tokyo, Japan! (I literally have not shut up about it ever since.) 

 

When did you start at SP? 

October 2023

 

What do you do at Safe Passage? 

I am the Youth Prevention and Outreach Coordinator—I work primarily on our Say Something Youth Initiative programming within Easthampton High School! This includes teaching in-classroom workshops called LABs, organizing a youth advisory board, and a running three-week summer program called Leadership Academy for teens ages 13-18. 

 

Text reads Creating a violence-free world deeply depends on all community members, not just adults! What are you working on right now? 

Currently, we are in the process of planning for our spring semester into the summer! This includes recruitment for our youth advisors, networking within the school to create connections with staff, and, of course, all of the planning that goes into a summer program.

It takes a lot of collaboration with our community partners from Community Action Youth Programs to help create spaces that youth not only want to engage in but feel like they get something out of their time spent with us. There is always some level of fun that goes along with youth programming, so it has been an absolute blast to be a part of. 

 

What do you enjoy about your work? 

I enjoy being able to help students realize their strengths and skills they already have. We focus heavily on youth empowerment within our program spaces. We don’t expect kids to know everything, but we never stand from a place assuming that they know nothing.

Younger people have so much specific experience and knowledge that is just as valuable to a community as older folks. I love being able to guide students on how to advocate for themselves and share that knowledge with others! 

 

What’s something you enjoy doing outside of work?

Outside of work I have been known as a hobby hoarder! I love to try as many different activities as possible as I think hobbies are important at any age to live a balanced life.

Currently, I’m returning to one of my old outlets: musical theater! After a long year of challenging my audition anxiety and brushing up on my singing since high school, I was able to get cast in a show. This was my goal for 2023, and for this year, I am hoping to put more energy into my cosplay creations! 

 

""How does youth empowerment connect with Safe Passage's vision of a world without violence?

The majority of my work focuses on a proactive approach to violence. This means our youth programming is designed to give folks the skills, knowledge, and support to keep themselves safe. My work with youth has an emphasis on developing healthy relationship skills in the early stages of navigating intimate partnerships—both romantic and platonic.

Educating and reaching out to young folks isn't done with the intention of telling them what to do. Rather, it's to help them develop skills they want for their own lives, like selfcare and active listening. We want them to develop the ability to trust their own instincts, with or without adult support.

Creating a violence-free world deeply depends all community members, not just adults!

 

Thank you for all the amazing work you do, Deanna!


If you are or know someone who is looking for support around relationship abuse, please call our helpline (M-F, 9am-5pm) at (413) 586-5066, toll-free at (888) 345-5282, or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233.