[Nadia Charles, Jeneration J president, is 16, but she has been educating youth on domestic violence prevention for six years. In a guest essay for the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, Nadia shares her story of becoming a volunteer and how she wants to make a difference.]
I started volunteering at Jenesse Center six years ago, at the M. Sue Frazier Summer Camp, Jenesse’s signature summer program for the children that reside in their shelter program. I had the fortune of working with children of all ages. I immediately noticed that all of the children were innocent in this process and were just trying to navigate their normal. As I continued to work with the children, I learned that they just wanted to be kids, laughing and having fun. At the same time, I worried about their parents. What was going to happen to them? How long would they stay? Even though some of their children could not effectively communicate their feelings, you could see it in their eyes, and feel it in their hugs and high fives. At this point, I knew that I was going to continue to participate and be there for the children—to provide fun and laughter, hugs and high fives for as long as they needed. This volunteer opportunity showed me that love is not supposed to hurt and break up families.
As the years went by and I grew older, I became more involved in activities at Jenesse Center. I learned about Jeneration J from Dr. Angela Parker, Director of Trainings and Programs, and how prevention work is so important. I attended a youth conversation, which provided a space for peers to learn and discuss how to educate our peers about healthy relationships. I believed that if I could start providing this education now, then maybe when I’m an adult, there won’t be any shelters. So here we are six years later, and I am blessed to be able to use my knowledge and voice to make a difference, educate, encourage healthy relationships and prevent violence in peer relationships.
Jeneration J Goals:
From its inception, Jenesse Center, Inc. understood that in order to make a real impact on domestic violence that we had to reach out to the next generation. “Jeneration J” seeks to produce a generation of morally conscious leaders to advocate social change and create a culture without violence. Dating violence does not discriminate. The goal of the program is to provide both a prevention-base continuum of programmatic activities aimed at ending the cycle of abuse and prevents violence such as bullying, date violence, taunting, inappropriately aggressive behavior, assaults, emotional and verbal abuse. It supports an intervention and advocacy model that educates youth and young adults on healthy relationships and trains them to be the next generation of anti-violence advocates. Jenesse has a vision of a world where our children, teens, and youth can live peacefully without the devastating effects of domestic violence, a global issue that continues to penetrate our communities.