The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) will fund the Sexual Assault Prevention Program (SAPP) at Tri-County Mental Health and Counseling, Inc., for the grant year that started Nov. 1, a news release announced last week.
SAPP offers programming focused on the primary prevention of sexual assault in Athens, Hocking and Vinton counties by sponsoring training and education in schools and in the community.
According to Lauren Riley, SAPP's director, "Tri-County Mental Health has sponsored some form of sexual assault prevention work for over 15 years in three counties. About five years ago, the program changed from risk reduction to primary prevention. We now focus on changing the underlying beliefs and behaviors that perpetuate interpersonal violence."
In the news release, Riley added, "…we are starting with younger children. We have programming for third-graders, teaching respect, understanding feelings, identifying bullying, and education about how teasing can lead to serious harm."
SAPP's curriculum goes on to focus on middle and high school students, Healthy Relationships, Teen Safe Dating and sexual violence prevention. SAPP sponsors a Healthy Relationship Club at Logan High School and a Men of Strength Club at Trimble High School, in addition to training peer educators, self-defense classes, community workshops, and campus-community discussions, the release said.
SAPP's partners, in addition to Tri-County Mental Health and Counseling, have included My Sister's Place, the local shelter for survivors of domestic violence, the Health Promotion Department at Ohio University, the Women's Centers at Ohio University and Hocking College, OU's Counseling and Psychological Services, OU's Survivor Advocacy Program, and schools in Athens, Hocking and Vinton counties. Additional grant funding has come from the Athens Foundation and Peoples' BanCorps.
"We are thrilled to be re-funded by the Ohio Department of Health, in a year when state and federal budgets are so uncertain," Riley said in the release.