Spectrum Empowerment Program Teaches Young Women Self Defense (and Life) Skills

Spectrum student Scout Wyness has been in difficult situations before. When she was younger, the Grade 12 student lived in a transition home for a year. But it wasn't until she enrolled in the YoBro Young Women's Empowerment program run by Joe Calendino and Spectrum teacher Fran Alley that she learned new skills to stand up for herself and stay safe in physically dangerous situations.

The program, which has been running for the past five months, is aimed at empowering young women. Roughly 15-20 young women are involved in training and discussion groups held twice a week.

Wyness says a lot of it revolves around having conversations and "real talk" about the challenges the women are facing with their family, partners, friends and classmates.

"The course is about empowering women to make choices for themselves and to have a voice in every situation," she says. "A lot of young women fall under the bus. They feel like they don't have a voice. They aren't willing to say no or stand up for themselves."

In addition to getting to the emotional core of empowerment, Calendino, Alley and other YoBro instructors also teach the female students a variety of self defense tactics. The organizers hope to expand the program by training the senior students to mentor younger elementary students.

"Fran and I have been talking about developing the program and growing it out," says Calendino. "We want to make the program sustainable and we are developing training for the senior mentors. Next step is to be putting Scout into a senior role and go into elementary schools."

To learn more about the program, click here. To watch a Global BC story about the program, click here.

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