Do you want to influence decisions about the laws, rules and resources that affect your community? Then raise your voice and use your power!
On February 16, 2012, Camille Hayes and Lisa Fujie Parks from the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence presented a workshop, “Raise Your Voice and Use Your Power!Advocacy for Healthy Teen Relationships and Teen Dating Violence Prevention,” at Peace Over Violence’s Violence Free Teens Conference in Los Angeles. The workshop opened with the question: “Do you want to make a difference in your community by influencing decisions about laws, rules and resources?” Participants responded with a resounding “yes!”
The workshop defined advocacy as the process of influencing decisions about laws, rules and resources within local, state and Federal government, as well as other institutions. The workshop highlighted the role of advocacy in promoting environments where young people are supported in having safe and loving relationships.
Participants learned the “7 Steps of Advocacy” and practiced the basics of sharing their message at a mock school board hearing. The “7 Steps of Advocacy” are:
- Come together
- Set your objective
- Get the facts
- Decide who you are trying to influence
- Build alliances
- Plan for opposing pressure
- Develop and share your message
The workshop led participants through each step using a worksheet, and focused in depth on Step 7: develop and share your message. Camille Hayes, the Partnership’s Public Affairs Specialist, explained that a message is a concise, purposeful communication designed to change someone’s mind, or encourage them toward a particular action. A message includes an explicit statement of what you want your audience to do. A message is not, however, a general statement that almost everyone would agree with, such as: “Teens should be encouraged to have healthy relationships.” A basic message includes: a real-life example, facts and statistics, and an “ask.” Drawing on her own advocacy experience, Camille shared tips for tailoring and delivering messages to two different but related audiences for advocacy: policymakers and reporters.
Giovanna Martinez with WomenShelter of Long Beach spoke about advocating to legislators in Sacramento and how helpful it was to prepare and rehearse in advance with Partnership staff. Michele Paolella from Day One in New York stated that it’s important to ask policymakers to commit to a specific action.
The workshop concluded with a reminder to participants that we each have a voice and can influence those with whom we interact. By participating in advocacy we can broaden our circle of influence and collectively use our voices and power to effect change.
Participants were encouraged to join forces with the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence to advocate for schools to adopt policies to address dating abuse. The Partnership is a statewide coalition of 200 organizations and individuals. Every day we work to inspire, inform and connect all those who are concerned with domestic violence, because together, we’re stronger. The Partnership’s Prevention Program advances effective teen dating violence prevention policies and programs through leadership, advocacy, and a statewide network of prevention advocates dedicated to promoting healthy relationships and preventing teen dating violence.
Advocates can participate in our annual Legislative Action Day and our monthly Prevention Peer Network Web Conferences, including our upcoming: “Youth leaders for healthy youth relationships: a statewide virtual gathering,” on April 17 from 3:30-5 PM. Advocates are also encouraged to:
- Follow our blog
- Sign up for our Prevention Digest
- Like us on Facebook
- Follow us on twitter: @cpedvcoalition