by Hannah Greenstreet, Volunteer & Outreach CoordinatorIMG_2002

This spring Live Violence Free, in collaboration with a multitude of partners, has been fortunate enough to expand the annual Girls Empowerment Retreat and organize the first ever Boys Empowerment Event. With the generosity of funding from Soroptimist International of Tahoe Sierra and MacDuff’s Public House, Live Violence Free worked closely with South Tahoe Middle School to engage 7th and 8th grade girls and boys in discovering their true potential for greatness.

On Wednesday, June 1, the girls were afforded the opportunity to get on paddle boards for the first time ever thanks to the donation by South Tahoe Standup Paddle. Additionally, the Master Gardener Program came out to support, offering a lesson on planting and nurturing the earth. The girls were able to plant flowers due to the contribution from Nel’s Hardware. The youth got to personalize their ceramic flower pot with positive affirmations as a reminder of their worth and future goals. Verde Rotisserie graciously provided a gourmet taco bar, ending the retreat with discussions of self-respect, confidence, and challenges or fears as they approach high school.

Last Wednesday, June 15, the inaugural My Strength. My Voice. Boys Empowerment Event was held at Escobar Trainings Grounds and Live Violence Free. The boys started their day with inspiration from Rabbi Evon Yakar of the Temple Bat Yam, connecting the links between their personal inner strength to that of nature and outdoor environments. The boys got the experience of training at Escobar Training Grounds, both in self-defense by Cory Escobar and his team, as well as, a more in-depth instruction on the importance of movement and self-exploration led by personal trainer, Jamison DeLallo. The boys ended their retreat afternoon with delicious food from Blue Angel Cafe, thanks to the benevolent contribution by Jeff Cowen. Lastly, the South Lake Tahoe Police Department Explorers Program, spearheaded by Officer Octavio Nava, came to provide an overview of the leadership program, as well as, breakdown societal stigmas between citizens and law enforcement. Other Explorer participants volunteered to detail their perspective as youth in the program.

Overall, these two retreats showcased the inner strength of our community at large. There were over a dozen partners who stepped up in support of our youth. Live Violence Free is infinitely grateful for all the volunteers’ time, expertise, and contributions to the events. Live Violence Free aims to continue building the Empowerment Program into a more frequent opportunity for teens during the fundamental ages of positive adult development. Without the passion of the involved partners, we would have never executed the vision of embracing the truth that “it takes a village.”