In honor of our 35th Anniversary, Dr. Leader shares her memories of the early days of Teen Line in a series we like to call…
TEEN LINE FOUNDATIONS
By Elaine Leader, Ph.D., CGP, BCD, FAGPA
Chapter Fifteen: Community Connections Continued
Another very important partnership for Teen Line is the Violence Prevention Coalition (VPC). I feel very proud and certainly honored to know and to have been associated with the VPC original founder, Billie Weiss, Ph.D. What an amazing woman and role model. Although the original focus of the VPC has been to prevent violence towards others, we at Teen Line have also been majorly focused on preventing violence towards the self, in other words, suicide prevention.
Over the years as the VPC has expanded we have become more involved in various aspects of the program. I am currently on their Policy Action Committee and Michelle Carlson is on their Gun Violence Prevention Coalition and The Making Connections Project to Address the Impact of Gang Culture and Gang Violence on Mental Health and Community Well-being.
Several times over the years we have been delighted to have one of our teens honored with the VPC’s Tony Borbon award for services rendered to the community. I am also tremendously proud of having received the VPC’s most prestigious commendation, the Angel of Peace Award, for the development and accomplishments of our LGBTQ Outreach. I was particularly thrilled to receive the Award along with Father Boyle whose Homeboy Industries work with gang youth is so outstanding. The actual award is so unusual as it is a sculpture made of melted down bullets.
It has been so exciting to see the VPC grow into the wonderful program it is today. When we first joined it was a small group of like-minded people with a vision to make important change in our community with regard to violence prevention. Too often the news was, and still is, focused on shootings and other violent incidents. We have been very concerned about violence in our schools particularly following the Littleton event.
Another youth focused issue has been concern about our juvenile justice system and how to improve this. Too many teenagers are receiving inadequate care once they are involved in any kind of delinquency. We at Teen Line have spent time at Central Juvenile Hall to educate the incarcerated youth on suicide prevention. This was quite an eye opener for me and my team as so few teens receive mental health care or even adequate education while in juvenile justice facilities. VPC has been much involved in promoting follow up care for youth when they are released from these facilities.
We very much admire the accomplishments of the VPC and are thrilled to see how it has grown and now includes so many agencies and individuals who wish to improve our community and are willing to devote time to these efforts whether it is joining a demonstration, working on a committee, donating funds, and, most of all, spreading the word.