Bringing with them the message of ending violence against women, four local teens arrived last week at the State Capitol.
The TrekNorth Junior and Senior High School students traveled to St. Paul to participate in the 2009 Action Day to End Violence Against Women.
All four students are part of a new group at TrekNorth called Teens Engaged in Ending Violence Overall. Group facilitator Kelly Brevig said TEEVO is helping teens have a voice to speak out against violence.
During the Feb. 11 Action Day, the students met with area legislators and attended a rally.
"My favorite part was the rally because there were so many speakers," said senior Brandi Granger, who participated in Action Day along with sophomore Jordan Bush, seventh-grader Caleb Blackbird and junior Mollie Lindbom.
"There were survivor stories," said Brevig, who works as the community education and outreach coordinator for the Sexual Assault Program of Beltrami, Cass and Hubbard Counties. TEEVO is a prevention project of the program.
The rally also included a legislator address, a memorial to victims of sexual violence and a femicide memorial ceremony.
Before and after the rally, the students visited with several area legislators and shared their message with them.
"It was neat," Brevig said.
Mollie said she enjoyed seeing how things work at the State Capitol and meeting legislators.
The students asked legislators to sign the T-shirts they decorated and were wearing. On the T-shirts, the students wrote that they pledge to create a violence-free Minnesota.
In their hotel lobby, the students saw Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Caleb walked up to him, told him what the students were doing at the State Capitol and asked him to sign his T-shirt.The students returned to Bemidji later that night - Caleb with the governor's signature on the back of his T-shirt.
TEEVO started at TrekNorth in November. The group is funded through a start-up grant from the United Way of Bemidji Area, and the Child Abuse Prevention Council of Beltrami County is providing continued funding for the year.
Besides some of the students in the group traveling to St. Paul, TEEVO has been working on several projects.
The students created a Valentine's Day card with a message that includes, "Relationships should be about trust, love and support, not control. We hope that your Valentine supports your dreams and goals and listens respectfully to you."
TEEVO then sent the cards to high schools in Beltrami, Cass, Hubbard and Clearwater counties - which is the Sexual Assault Program's service area - and Bemidji State University.
Brevig said the hope was that the schools would include the cards as an add-in to their Valentine's Day celebrations.
TEEVO also bought posters that share the message of respecting women that they will send to high schools in the four-county area. The group also hopes to give some of the posters to theaters in the area.