Safenet Services receives BNSF grant for youth violence prevention program

Pictured: Kasi VanSandt speaking to area high school students.

Safenet Services received $5,000 from the BNSF Railway Foundation to fund their new prevention initiative “Staying on Track: Youth Violence Prevention Program” for the next year. “This was a new grant we hadn’t received before and we are thrilled to have the support of the BNSF Railway Foundation,” says Alexandra Seifried, Development Specialist. Seifried wrote for the grant after searching for new grants for Safenet. “When I saw the BNSF Railway Foundation funded projects like ours, I knew I had to apply. Trains are such a big part of Claremore and we are so happy to have their support.”

“With this additional funding, we will combine the violence prevention we have been teaching in Rogers and Mayes Counties for junior high and high school students with the new anti-bullying campaign for elementary students,” says Donna Grabow, Executive Director. “We decided to partner with therapy dogs when teaching the anti-bullying for the elementary school students to help garner their interest. By teaching the children we do not harm animals, we can also teach them we do not harm people, as they allow for the comparison of healthy relationships between people and between people and animals.”

“We know that bullying in youth and domestic violence later in life are linked so we see this as a way to prevent the abuse from ever happening. And, unfortunately, when there is domestic violence in homes, there is often animal abuse, too,” says Grabow. “We have had great success going into the local schools over the past two years and this grant will allow us to reach even more students. In 2018, our prevention specialist, Kasi VanSandt, was able to speak to over 800 students about healthy relationships, and healthy boundaries.”

“It is important for young people to understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships,” says VanSandt. “Unfortunately, it is not a topic that is not regularly discussed so they learn about relationships from media sources and friends around them. I work to end the stigma around talking about unhealthy relationships and helping young people feel comfortable setting boundaries in all their relationships. In doing this work, I have never done a presentation that has not ended in a young person coming forward to tell me of a personal experience with an unhealthy or abusive situation.”

“I find the most satisfaction in my work when young people find their voice,” adds VanSandt. “Their voices are so important when we are talking about the things that directly affect them. By allowing youth to have this space to ask questions and talk about relationships in a way that they may have never had before, it empowers them and fills them with confidence.”

Donna also added, “Working with the younger children is where we need to start to prevent the abuse. By teaching students early how to treat the people around them, the likelihood of bullying, dating violence, and later in life, domestic violence drastically decreases. We must use all resources at our disposal to help end generational domestic violence.”

Safenet Services would like to thank the BNSF Railway Foundation for its support to help keep the youth of Rogers & Mayes Counties safe. For more information on the services provided by Safenet, please visit SafenetServices.org or call 918-341-1424.

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