Domestic Violence Peer Ambassador Project trains residents on prevention and intervention
WARREN—Through a unique collaboration, Macomb Community College and the Macomb Community Domestic Violence Council (MCDVC) have developed a comprehensive domestic violence education and prevention program, certifying more than 30 Macomb County residents to date. The concept for the program, the Domestic Violence Peer Ambassador Project (DVPAP), was developed at the MCDVC’s 2009 Domestic Violence Prevention Summit and then implemented community-wide after Macomb College incorporated it into its Macomb Multicultural International Initiatives (MMII) program.
St. Clair Shores District Court Judge Joseph Oster, president of the MCDVC, was one of the creators of the DVPA Project and is also a Domestic Violence Peer Ambassador.
"I truly believe that domestic violence is preventable,” said Judge Oster. “By clearing up misconceptions, changing perspectives and outlining simple strategies, we are building a safer community one person at a time. After being trained as a peer ambassador, I am better equipped to address this most serious threat to our families on a personal and judicial level.
"Everyone knows someone who has experienced or is currently experiencing violence in her relationship,” said Oster. “This short program gives the peer ambassadors the tools to address and support their friend, colleague or acquaintance in an effective and nonjudgmental way that upholds their human dignity in a time of danger and crisis."
Using training sessions modeled after many of Macomb College’s continuing education courses, the DVPAP creates a team of Domestic Violence Peer Ambassadors to serve as a safe contact for survivors or loved ones of survivors to obtain basic information and referrals for services. Additionally, this team shares information about domestic violence with those around them. The peer ambassadors are provided with educational tools and the opportunity for ongoing discussions with others about the project. In response to the program, an additional 50 community volunteers have registered and will be trained this fall.
Participants in the DVPAP earn credits toward Macomb College’s Cultural Competency Certificate, a non-academic certificate awarded by college’s Continuing Education Department and Macomb Multicultural International Initiatives. Requiring 20 contact hours of overall participation, the award recognizes an increase in knowledge, sensitivity, and cross-cultural interactions, by students, staff, and members of the community at large.
“The Domestic Violence Peer Ambassador Project has been an extremely valuable component for participants in the Macomb Multicultural International Initiatives program” said Cassandra Spieles, co-coordinator of the college’s MMII program. “Having an open forum for individuals to learn and properly respond to the tragedy of domestic violence, whether in their personal or professional lives, has provided a much-needed opportunity to educate and share meaningful information.”
Based on the success of the peer ambassador project to date, the MCDVC will be awarding Macomb College with its Tracy Minnella Award, named after a Macomb County woman who was murdered by her former boyfriend. The award recognizes leadership, dedication and concern in the support of survivors and victims of domestic violence and will be presented to the college on Friday, September 30 at Macomb Community College’s Center Campus University Center at noon.
The next available DVPAP training opportunity will be in the 2012 winter semester. For more information about the DVPAP, including how to become a peer ambassador, call 586.498.4000 or contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The Macomb Community Domestic Violence Council - The MCDVC is a community collaborative with representatives from law enforcement, district courts, mental health, legal aid, education, healthcare, and victim’s services that works to improve our coordinated community response to domestic violence. The group meets five times a year and facilitates workgroups to improve the system response to domestic violence such as The Law Enforcement Taskforce, Batterer Intervention Provider Interest Group and the Prevention Taskforce.
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