Sunday, November 29 , 2015, 8:08 am | Fair 44º

Pro-Youth Movement Hosting Workshop Series to Explore the Root Causes of Violence

By Gina Potthoff, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @ginapotthoff |

A new series of workshops will work to heal victims of violence and to educate those who want to learn what’s really happening in the Santa Barbara community, according to organizers.

In an effort to provide a network of youth advocates in one place, the city’s Pro-Youth Movement will host a free four-part workshop series examining “Youth and Family Violence.”

The first will take place Saturday from noon to 2:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church and focus on how family violence, sexual assault and child abuse affect youth.

The series is the brain child of locals Pat Hardy and Catherine Steininger, both members of the Pro-Youth Movement founded in response to Santa Barbara’s gang injunction and to identify the root causes of gang violence.

While the city waits for a ruling on whether that injunction will happen, the group of local professionals in youth development, educators and faith community members decided to take action — aiming to create safer homes, schools and streets.

Hardy told Noozhawk the workshops will present not only the names of those who can help but practical experience of how.

“There are lots of services that are out there to help you,” she said. “Who do you contact and how do you deal with it? How do you handle helping (friends or family) to deal with that and to find somebody that can help them? These are subjects that people don’t often talk about.”

Participants will hear from those who have experienced traumatic violence and can share their own experiences in a group setting or in a private side meeting, if they’d prefer.

Representatives from Alternatives to Violence Project, Domestic Violence Solutions, Anger Management Specialists, Child Abuse Listening and Mediation and Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center will employ role-playing, listening exercises and interactive activities.

“Whenever you hear about what’s happened in someone else’s life, your eyes are open," Hardy said. “No one ever knows when they’re going to be involved in a date rape situation. It could happen to any of us. I just think this is exactly the kind of thing of the pro-youth movement wants to be involved in.”

News of the workshops comes a year after Santa Barbara City Councilwoman Cathy Murillo co-founded the Pro-Youth Movement to find alternatives to the gang injunction and to bring restorative justice to Santa Barbara. The group meets the third Saturday of every month at Trinity Episcopal Church.

She credited Hardy and Steininger for choosing workshop topics to try reaching youth who have already sought help from public or private agencies, but might require more.

“Let’s help them now before they get disconnected from school,” Murillo said. “A lot of people do care, they just don’t know what to do to help these young kids make a choice. If you’ve ever thought about mentoring a young person, if you’ve experienced any kind of trauma in your life and you want to help someone else, come to the workshop.”

All workshops will be hosted at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1500 State St.,  from noon to 2:30 p.m., with Spanish translation, child care, food and counseling available.

Other workshops include:

» Saturday, Aug. 16 — "Youth and Families Speak Out: What We Experience, What We Need"

» Saturday, Sept. 20 — "Strategies for Addressing Unmet Needs/Where are the Gaps in Services?"

» Saturday, Oct. 18 — "Parenting Skills/Services and Support for Families"

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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