March 22, 2016

Texas Teens Selected for Statewide Ambassadorship to Raise Awareness about Healthy Relationships and Dating Violence

downloadTwenty three teens from across Texas have been selected for a statewide ambassadorship to promote healthy dating relationships and raise awareness about teen dating violence as part of Texas Advocacy Project’s 2nd annual Teen Ambassadors of Hope campaign.

Male and female teens from throughout Texas – including Austin, Houston, Mission, Plano, and Round Rock – were nominated by coaches, teachers, neighbors, and parents and were selected based upon their community involvement and social engagement.

Ambassadorship goals are threefold: engage young leaders in raising awareness about dating violence and healthy relationships; promote Texas Advocacy Project’s mission and legal services; and raise needed funds for the organization.

All participating teens will attend a mandatory training provided by The Project where they will cover healthy relationships, teen dating violence, personal branding, and grassroots fundraising. In addition, these young contributors will participate in an exclusive Leadership Training class led by Dr. Barry Bales. While spearheading their individual campaigns, the teens will compete for the title of Teen Ambassador of the Year presented to the top three ambassadors who raise the most funds in their respective campaigns.

“We are thrilled to engage with these young leaders and give them the tools to make a difference with their peers and community. Dating violence is the most common form of violence among adolescents, so it’s really important that teens are opening up a dialogue to talk about what it means to be in a healthy relationship,” said Heather Bellino, Executive Director.

12800280_1039463862741163_4417072466622703754_nThe 2016 Teen Ambassador cohort is comprised of: Zoe Arora, Jackson Castro, James Castro, Hannah Collmann, Shaunak Divine, Dalton Doerr, Madison Doerr, Averi Goecks, Elyse Guerra, Hunter Jones, Heather King, Samantha Martinez, Barrington Miles, Amy Opara, Blake Pettit, Meredith Reece, Brianna Rezler, Danielle Rogers, Cara Spradling, Annabella Stavrou, Joseph Studer, Avery Turner, and Lizi Xiong.

The campaign will run from May 1 – July 8. All participants will receive credit for their volunteer work and will be recognized for their efforts at an awards banquet on July 23.

Issue Summary One in three U.S. teens is the victim of physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse by a dating partner –a figure that far exceeds other types of youth violence. Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence -almost triple the national average. Violent relationships in adolescence can have serious ramifications by putting victims at higher risk for substance abuse, risky sexual behaviors, and further abuse (statistics from: