East County Community group receives 5-year grant for youth violence programs

OUTLOOK PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING - Miguel Becab, 18, is a volunteer for STRYVE. A section of the Multnomah County Public Health division is working toward developing prevention strategies to stem youth violence before it occurs — and a recent grant will help the group accomplish those goals.

Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere, STRYVE, received a 5-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that will give about $400,000 per year. The Teen Dating Violence and Youth Violence Prevention grant will be used to support several programs in the area.

"We are trying to stop violence before it occurs, and work with youth and community members to build up protective factors," said Vanessa Micale, program supervisor.

Information about the grant and program were presented during the East County Caring Community monthly meeting Thursday, Feb. 2, at Gresham City Hall.

STRYVE had previously received grant money, but this is the first time it will be focused on East Multnomah County. Points of interest will include Rockwood, Fairview, Wood Village and Gresham.

The group is often asked why public health is involved in violence prevention. Their answer is that exposure to violence of all forms increases the risk of developing chronic health conditions and the likelihood of engaging in behaviors known to contribute to chronic illness.

STRYVE enables communities to add a public health prevention focus to work they are already doing to decrease youth violence. This is done using popular education, Community Health Workers and participatory research.

"We want to be innovative in what we do," said Larry Summerfield, community health worker. "We want to come up with things to initiate and engage our youth. We can always do something different, or come up with another idea."

The health workers serve as points-of-contact for the kids, answering any questions and solving problems that occur during every day. Summerfield makes a point to always be accessible via cellphone.

"I've felt the same way these youths have felt, and I knew I had to do something to redirect the legacy I was going to have on this planet," he said. "This is my opportunity to help reduce youth violence."

Some of the activities STRYVE conducts include peace pole installations, peaceful gatherings and community art projects.

Volunteer opportunities are available through STRYVE to help raise awareness of prevention as an approach to reduce youth violence. Call 503-927-1823 for more information.

East County Caring Community is a regional collaboration that engages with hundreds of individuals and organizations serving the needs of residents in East Multnomah County.

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