Submitted by Josie Natrasevschi
Northern Colorado & Northeastern Colorado
1 out of 4 women are attacked while in college. This was the case for my sister as well as a statistic. I have been working on my Girl Scout Gold Award project, “Protect Yourself.” I teach young women to protect themselves with self-defense, travel in groups and watch out for each other. You go with a friend to a party and you leave with that friend. You have each other’s back and watch each other’s drink.
I addressed the issue of sexual assault in my project. This issue revolves around the practice of knowingly causing another person to engage in an unwanted sexual act by force or threat. It is also one of the most prominent issues in the world being that every two minutes someone in the United States man or woman is sexually assaulted. My target audiences ranges from students of the age 14 to students to the age 17 due to the fact that those within the ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. After participants finish the class they gain basic self-defense skills as well as strategic thinking methods that will aid in surviving an assault.
Through participating in the project many find themselves with confidence, that previously they were lacking in. This project also provided information about sexual assault and what to watch out for when traveling alone or in a group so as to avoid being assaulted. The project will be sustained beyond my direct involvement by the teachers that I trained to teach the class. They will put the course in the classes they teach and will continue doing so long after I graduated.
Sexual assault is a global issue and is seen all over the world as shown by the startling statistics: “An estimated 150 million girls under 18 suffered some form of sexual violence in 2002 alone”(saynotoviolence.org) and in the multiple articles and news exposes that focus on the issue of sexual assault alone, a few of the more startling being “In a Global First, Global Data on Violence Against Women” by Dan Morrison of National Geographic , and “Egypt: Epidemic of Sexual Violence” by Human Rights Watch.
Throughout my project I encountered numerous set backs. Among all of my set backs the largest one was without doubt the numerous hardships me and my family went through last year. They ranged from a friend taking his own life to my grandmother passing away, with a few unfortunate additions in between. It was little more than a miracle that I was in fact able to overcome the emotional torrent that was my life but I did so with the help of my troop and my friends who encouraged me to continue to pursue my passions. Among my few passions this project resides and I relentlessly moved step by step foreword until I finally completed it.
In order to inspire others I took many different approaches. I first created a blog http://protecty0urself.wordpress.com/ to address widespread issues and promote change. I then dove head first into teaching anyone I could, the skills that were imparted unto me by my instructor Chet Barnett who most generously donated his time to train me. I taught people at Fossil Ridge High School, Girls State in Gunnison CO, at the National Youth Leadership Forum in Boston to my group the Nightingales, at Brown University to my floor in the dorms, and lastly to the teachers at Fort Collins High School.
I learned that despite how daunting a task may seem it is possible to complete and improve it with enough hard work and dedication. That being said this project force fed me a dose of humility and surprised me by transforming my outlook on life. It made me look for the genuine good in people and to stop taking things so personally because I now realize that I don’t actually know what is going on in their lives and I have no place to judge them without first knowing the full and comprehensive story behind their actions.
Another thing I learned about myself was that I could do something special, that I could change the world. I am most proud of the fact that whoever is touched by this project will be more prepared to take on the world head on. They will be less hindered by the fears that come with living alone or walking the streets at night because of the information that they learned by taking the class. I have taught them to be safe and know that they are safer just by taking my class. I developed healthy relationships of trust and respect between myself and those I taught. I have learned how to teach, speak, and communicate effectively.
I also developed a deep connection to my community, locally and globally by teaching the class to those who live as close as Fort Collins and as far as China. I identified a community issue, sexual assault and decided to make a difference both locally and globally by developing a class and blogging. In doing so I ran into a couple of problems a major one being how to make my project sustainable but I solved that by resolving to train the teachers in my school the program. Throughout my project I felt empowered to make a difference in the world and I acted on that empowerment by educating as many as I could about sexual assault and self-defense.
I’d like to Thank Chet Barnett of: Krav Maga self-defense (2439 South College Ave Unit C2, Fort Collins, CO 80525) for training me in self-defense for my Girl Scout Gold Award project. Thank Mrs. Neal of Fossil Ridge High School for participating in my program with her class. A special shout out to Coach Conrad Crist Fort Collins High School who helped me complete my project.
I published an article about my project in the Fort Collins Coloradoan.
This story was submitted via the Share Your Stories form. You can share your Girl Scout moments too.