February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. In support of healthy dating relationships, Northwest Assistance Ministries (NAM) is having an event called the “Young Hearts Matter” Art & Writing Challenge. It is a chance for Houston youth to write and create art and share it with the community. Winners of the challenge will receive prizes and will be featured in NAM’s monthly E-newsletter, on its website, and in the lobby of NAM’s main building for others to see, experience and appreciate.
Students in junior high and high school are being called upon to use their artistic abilities to create an original poem, essay, sculpture, drawing, painting, or other creative piece to express their views on the characteristics of either a healthy or an unhealthy teen relationship. There will be three pieces from each age category chosen as winners for both written and art submissions.
“Dating violence can happen to anyone, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation or background,” said Sheryl Johnson, Director of NAM’s Family Violence Center. “Teens who are victims in junior high and high school are at a higher risk of being victimized during college and throughout their lifetime,” she continued. “If we can teach teens what the signs are for an abusive or violent relationship, and show them what a healthy relationship is, we can hopefully stop the cycle of violence.”
Students who are interested in participating in NAM’s Art & Writing Challenge can visit http://namonline.org to download rules and the submission form, which must be completed and turned in with each creative piece that is entered.
The deadline for all entries is Friday, February 15, by 3 p.m. Teachers or students can mail or drop off their entry at Young Hearts Matter Challenge, Northwest Assistance Ministries, C/O Family Violence Center, 15555 Kuykendahl Rd, #311, Houston, TX 77090.
Winners will be chosen on February 22 and contacted by February 25. The winning works will be revealed at a viewing party and reception at NAM on Tuesday, March 5 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The pieces will be on display until March 29, during regular business hours Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The Family Violence Center is dedicated to breaking the cycle of violence by assisting victims of domestic and sexual violence through crisis intervention, long-term support services, and through community violence and awareness prevention education. In the fiscal year 2017-2018, the FVC received more than 8,300 hotline calls from victims in crisis and individuals seeking assistance. They also offer year-round programs, workshops and different events that bring awareness to the domestic violence problem in the area.