Prevent Assault & Violence Education (PAVE) is a peer led educational program offered free to area schools and organizations. High school volunteers from all over the county go into middle school classrooms to talk to the students about violence prevention in many forms. College-age students also educate (high) school students in afterschool clubs or classrooms about anti-violence. Topics discussed in the PAVE program include physical assault, neglect, sexual harassment, bullying, teen dating violence, media literacy and more. PAVE helps youth in Licking County avoid becoming victims or helps them understand that it is never their fault if they have been victimized.
Many teens are at-risk for drug or alcohol use, criminal or sexual activity. Participating in PAVE empowers them to avoid those choices. These teens are our leaders for tomorrow and we need them to be educated, healthy, self-sufficient leaders.
PAVE students meet weekly at Mental Health America throughout the school year to learn leadership, improvisation, education, public speaking, and other skills. Students also participate in fundraising activities, campouts, community awareness events such as a Peacemakers’ Showcase and Take Back the Night Rally, and have received the Strategies Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) Awards multiple times along with the Ohio Attorney General's Two Days In May Award for Promising Practice.
Teens can earn community service hours for all they invest in the PAVE program, and in turn can list their membership on college applications or job resumes. Some high schools also grant graduation credit for a certain number of accumulated hours. Working with a variety of students from other schools is a bonus to PAVE, leading to a very diverse group of students on our team. This team often becomes a family, sharing personal stories during “circle time” or hanging out together after school. Students are also dismissed from their classes to present PAVE in other schools.
Over 15 years ago, Mental Health America created the PAVE program, knowing that there was a link between youth violence & mental health & wellbeing. It is our understanding that no one else provides these services in this manner. We have always valued youth & the power they possess, but we are so fortunate to be able to act on that belief by supporting our schools through this programming.