Celebrating Black History Month means to me that our African Americans are celebrating our freedom from slavery and have since uplifted our communities to educate, spread wisdom, and show love to our future generations.
Celebrating Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month means to me that our black and Latinx communities work together to keep our youth safe and educated when it comes to relationships. It’s also celebrating the youth who are currently dealing with domestic violence or have taken their lives due to the pressure of dealing with an abusive relationship.
My work as a peer educator addresses each of these topics by breaking down the needs of our youth that we serve, which includes talking about harsh topics such as Equality, Gender Roles, LGBTQ communities, Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, Domestic Violence etc. All these world-class issues are put on a respectable platform so that our youth have a safe environment to share their thoughts or experiences about these issues.
Communities are super impacted by their young people stepping up to learn about day-to-day issues and are finding solutions on how to deal with issues firsthand and not waiting until things are toxic to the environment.
Rights Now! gives me a rewarding opportunity to educate on how to prevent issues that are happening to our youth. I aspire to become a social worker, and working alongside Rights Now! opens up my spectrum of just how deep youths’ issues can go. Knowing that there are solutions that I can provide teens who seek help—and who otherwise may not be able to find anyone who can help them in their time of need—gives me hope that our generation will slowly but surely change for the better when addressing uncomfortable topics.
Shanifa Bennett is 21 and lives in Manhattan. She is a Rights Now! Peer Educator with Legal Momentum. Shanifa also interns with two other organizations in NYC. As a Peer Educator, Shanifa is completing an eight-week training and curriculum consultation program. Shanifa, along with fellow Peer Educators, provides feedback and consultation on curriculum development for Rights Now! Upon completing the program, Shanifa and four other Peer Educators will facilitate educational workshops for young women and girls across New York City.
Rights Now! is a peer educator empowerment program that trains young women to identify and respond to sexual violence and sex-based discrimination. The workshops build knowledge and confidence as participants learn about the impacts power, privilege, and oppression have on their lives. Youth also learn about the legal rights and remedies they have to address sexual abuse and violence that affects their lives.