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Project Respect is a youth driven prevention and education program aimed at preventing sexualized violence amongst youth ages 12 and up. It does this by looking at and challenging the root causes of sexualized violence such as gender stereotypes, power dynamics and miscommunication.
Working with youth in schools, community organizations, and alternative environments and spaces, Project Respect uses interactive workshops and activities and skilled young adult faciltators to promote respect as the basis for healthy and safe relationships. Centered on the theme of respect, we help youth to think critically about the messages, attitudes, and behaviours that lead to sexualized violence: stereotypes, labels, miscommunication, drugs and alcohol, media pressure, and power imbalances. Based on a set of key messages developed with youth, Project Respect empowers youth with knowledge and skills to promote their right to a sexuality without violence and works together with them to change social contexts and create a world where sexualized violence is no longer a reality.
Our history started with youth and Project Respect continues to be youth-centered in all aspects of its programming. In 1997, Women's Sexual Assault Centre (WSAC) found that of the women that accessed the hospital accompaniment program, over 1 in 3 were ages 13 to 19. The staff and board of directors dedicated a bequest to researching and designing a new prevention strategy.
Research done with youth formed the basis of Project Respect. Youth said they needed a program that reflected the realities of their culture, came from a variety of sources, and had a simple, positive message.
An advisory committee of youth quickly became the driving force of the project. With support from media experts and WSAC, youth helped develop the key prevention messages and social marketing strategy. The theme they came up with was “Communicate…Respect”. After two years of work with local youth, community partners and experts in the field of sexual violence, Project Respect was launched in 2000. An award winning video created by the youth, a school program and a website were some of the key components.
Since 2001, Project Respect has presented in numerous secondary schools, has attended provincial and national conferences, hosted an awareness raising event, Yo’Fest, and trained many youth to be Respect Revolutionaries in their communities.
We aim to create discussions and share a positive alternative model of relationships for youth. Our philosophy include:
- Sex positivity: We believe that everyone has the right to sexuality without violence and the right to decide whether, when, and with whom they'll be sexual.
- Youth-centeredness: We believe that youth are the experts on their own experience and have ample expertise to share with their peers. We also believe that youth are the drivers of change and that open discussion and honest communication are keys to empowerment.
- Feminism: We believe that preventing sexualized violence begins with critically exploring damaging and dangerous gender expectations, stereotypes, and labels.
- Intersectionality: We believe that relationships and sexualized violence are shaped by multiple inequalities and experiences. To prevent sexualized violence, we need to explore power imbalances based on racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and other intersecting expectations and stereotypes.
We acknowledge the traditional Coast Salish Territory on which we work, live, learn, and play.