East Providence High students claim top prize in teen awareness media contest


EAST PROVIDENCE — For the third year in a row, East Providence High School is the home to at least one group of students chosen as winners of the Day One media contest, "Your Voice, Your View," which asks 10th grade students to create a television commercial to help spread the word about sexual and violence prevention in teenage relationships.

In 2014, EPHS had not one, but two top recipients. A group consisting of James Deizel, Jeremy Cordeiro, Christina D'Amico, Alexander DeCastro and Jimmy Polana was chosen for first place while another made up of Ally Morris, Taylor Silva, Sarah Laurianno, Kenneth Bond, Meghan Tarvis and Victoria Lamarre was chosen for third place in what is a state-wide contest of secondary school students.

"The problem with much of the discussion about rape and sexual assault is that it only happens with men attacking women, but attacks can be women on men, men on men or women on women," Miss Morris explained about the commercial made by her group. "What we were trying to do was end stereotypes when it comes to rape and sexual violence. It can happen to anyone."

Among the perks for the first-place group was an interview spot and the premier of their work on the WPRI CBS 12 daily talker, "The Rhode Show." The commercial made its prime time debut Sunday evening, April 13, during an episode of the legendary animated series "The Simpsons" and will run throughout the rest of the month on WNAC Fox 64.

Miss D'Amico explained her team's commercial includes a young women, whom she portrays, as having consumed too much alcohol to drink at a party. Mr. DeCastro plays an overzealous male, attempting to take advantage of her, while the rest of the group uses the tools they've learned through the Day One prevention program to stop the situation from spiraling out of control.

"The rest of the kids step in to them (Mr. DeCastro) why he doesn't want to do what he is about to do," Miss D'Amico said. "Hopefully our commercial gets more people to step in before things go far. And that they shouldn't take advantage of girls or anybody. It can happen to anyone."

"What our commercial pretty much does is to tell people stop and think before you do it," Mr. Cordeiro added.

April, according to Day One's communications director, Kristy Dos Reis, is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This year, the focus is specifically on youth through a program entitled "Time To Talk About It," or helping teens become more proactive rather than reactive to potential cases of sexual violence, Ms. Dos Reis added. "It's about looking out for the victim, but also about how kids can help their friends stop before they go too far and get into trouble," she said.

Day One's program, now in its eighth year, stresses a three-prong approach to the problem of teen sexual violence, according to Sandra Malone, the group's coordinator of prevention education. "East Providence is an awesome school with awesome kids," she said. The workshops engage teens to discuss the topic openly and freely, ways of prevention and strategies to deal with situations they may encounter.

"These kids are about to enter adulthood and they're going to face challenges like these, so the more they know about it the better," said EPHS assistant principal Shani Wallace, who works closely with the prevention program. "We want them to be aware about sexual violence rather than be shocked when they're presented by it and don't have the tools to be able to handle it in the proper way. We can't expect them to do the right thing, if we don't teach them how."

The lessons apparently have been learned.

"Anyone can help and it's not that hard to step in. It's actually very simple and will help you in the long run," said Mr. Deizel. "Sometimes guys just want to sit on the couch and not get involved, usually because it's one of their friends who may be doing it. But through this program we know that we should get involved and now we know how to get involved the right way."

Added, Mr. Polana, "The thing is, it's a problem all the students know about, but I don't think we knew how bad it's been. This program has helped us realize the difference between just flirting and going too far."


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