Local Students Unite in of Support East Hampton Nonprofit

IMG_1209 Ross Upper School students are joining forces with teens throughout the East End to raise awareness of teen dating violence and provide support for a local nonprofit.

Fallon Attias ’18, Lily Attias ’18, Xinyu (Kari) Chen ’20, Dennef Chiriboga ’18, Kehan Fan ’19, Dualta Gallaher ’19, Sophie Griffin ’19, Xinyi (Linda) Liu ’19, and Valentina Monsalve ’19 were selected by East Hampton–based The Retreat, which provides rehabilitative services for those affected by domestic violence, to participate in the organization’s Teen Leadership Project.

The leadership program offers students from East End high schools the opportunity to cultivate leadership skills while learning about violence prevention, forging healthy relationships, and serving their communities. The Teen Leaders undergo six to eight weeks of comprehensive training and attend weekly workshops and special events.

“We partner with teens not just to train them but also to learn from them so that we can develop programming that is responsive to the needs and concerns of young people,” said Helen Atkinson-Barnes, education program manager at The Retreat.

In conjunction with National Teen Dating Violence Prevention Month, each school’s leaders also developed independent projects to raise awareness. The projects ranged from giving presentations, hosting events, and designing posters to crafting articles and surveys. At Ross, students created a series of fundraising activities to promote Respect Week. The students sold red roses to be delivered to students on Valentine’s Day, and a group of international students facilitated the sale of bubble tea to highlight the diversity of the student body. Other activities included a bake sale, a dress-down day, and a prominently displayed art installation made of Post-it notes adorned with kind messages.

“We were so delighted to have so many Ross School students participating with The Retreat Teen Leadership Project,” Helen said. “Their outreach and community involvement helps to bring much needed awareness to the issue of domestic violence and also to healthy relationships of all sorts—teen friendships and dating relationships included.”

The Retreat is also working with Ross School to host “Healthy Relationships Don’t Hurt” workshops for teens.