S.A.V.E.D. (Students Against Violence…Especially Domestic) is a group of sixteen 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students participating in an activity called Community Problem Solving at Buddy Taylor Middle School. In Community Problem Solving, students go out in their community and work hard to solve a problem. The group of students who make up S.A.V.E.D. chose to do a project on domestic violence, and work with Flagler County’s Family Life Center. Flagler County is the fastest growing county in the state of Florida, which translates into an increasing domestic violence rate. S.A.V.E.D. wanted to make Flagler County citizens aware of domestic violence so that residents will be committed to meeting the needs of the victims/survivors of domestic violence. They developed a multi-media action plan for their educational outreach campaign, which included the creation and community-wide distribution of a three-panel brochure, fliers, domestic violence skit performances, Flagler County’s School marquee announcements, book marks with a domestic violence message for all Flagler County students, school morning announcements via TV, a video created by the students to show at other Flagler County schools, etc.
The statistics demonstrate that the serviced provided by the Family Life Center have almost doubled from the previous year. This has been attributed to S.A.V.E.D. The quality of life in the community has also improved due to the impact of services offered. During the summer, some of the students contacted the Family Life Center to see if the center could utilize them as volunteers. Together with Family Life Center they brainstormed to come up with ideas to meet the needs of victims and survivors of domestic violence. The students then developed a long-term plan that has been ongoing since August 2001 that creates community awareness regarding the issue of domestic violence. The team meets weekly with a staff member of the Center. In addition, they convene on weekends and evenings to implement their plan of action to distribute materials regarding the services from the Center and perform the domestic violence skit at community events.
These 11, 12 and 13-year olds are taking an active role to break a cycle of violence in their community that will positively impact future generations. They sought grants, asked businesses for in-kind and monetary donations and received an outpouring of community support. Since the project’s inception, the team has collectively volunteered 1819 hours of service for the clients of the Family Life Center. These students not only contributed to a need in service, but they helped to create a solution that produced change and an impact on our community. They met their personal challenges by overcoming limited resources. They also overcame the challenges of the United Way of Volusia, facing the fight against domestic violence, by helping to educate the community and change the public perception of the problem. They are very dedicated to the cause and have accomplished more than the desired results initially anticipated. They have devoted a large amount of time and effort in implementing their plan of action and are yet committed to continuing to help in the United Way campaign in the future.