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Get to Know Prevention Educator Natalie

Safe Connections Staffer Highlight

June 22, 2018, St. Louis, MO

Prevention Education at Safe Connections is celebrating it’s 30th birthday in 2018, so we wanted to give our readers an inside take on what it’s like to be a prevention educator here at Safe Connections. We interviewed Natalie, a prevention educator who has worked with us since last November. Here’s how the conversation went:

Q: How did you get into being a prevention educator with Safe Connections?
A: During my undergrad Social Work field placement I worked in a domestic violence agency as a courts advocate and crisis line staffer. While this was incredibly rewarding, I felt that it wasn’t hitting at the root cause of violence. I wanted to do work that would prevent harm from happening in the first place, rather than providing short term support.  Since I knew I didn’t want to be a counselor, it just made sense to work with kids after that. This led me to Safe Connections, because it has the most comprehensive Prevention Education program I’ve seen in St. Louis. 

Q: It’s the summer, so there aren’t many students in school to educate right now, what does your job entail during school breaks?
A: I am only recently full-time, and before my new job as a Prevention Educator, I was working part-time as a Community Partnerships Advocate. That’s a fancy way of saying I scheduled presentations for Project HART, collected Memorandums of Understanding, and was a contact person for questions about Prevention Education. This summer, I’ve held a couple of Girls Group sessions while the prevention team as a whole has been working on curriculum development. This summer is all about transitioning to full-time and understanding how to do Girls Group paperwork!

Q: Have you had any “aha!” moments from students during your experience that have stuck with you?
A: I’m always impressed with the amount of knowledge some young kids have about the LGBTQ+ community.  I’ve been in a room with 6th graders who knew what all the acronyms meant and were very vocal about showing support for their LGBTQ+ friends.

Q: What do you think sets Safe Connections’ prevention education program apart from other similar programs?
A: I think our program is unique because our pieces of curriculum are living documents.  We have flexibility to try out new activities.  This allows us to be as creative as we like and adaptable to various students’ needs in the classroom. 

Q: What’s the one thing you wish more people would know about teens and prevention education?
A: I wish people would understand how necessary it is to implement prevention education in schools.  Kids know more than we think and are already exposed to so much at a young age. I think it’s important to have these hard conversations with students so we can mold empathetic, tender, and accepting humans.

Interested in learning more about our Prevention Education programs? For more information or to bring Safe Connections to your school or site, contact Zenique Gardner-Perry at 314.646.7500 x130.

By Rachael Krajewski. Rachael is an undergraduate Psychology student, aspiring clinical therapist, and our newest development intern at Safe Connections.