Prepare Inc. has entered its 23rd year. Our founder Donna began her career as an attorney working in family law. She saw first hand how the legal system did not support families dealing with violence. By the time she, as a lawyer, was involved – the family was typically in crisis and she and the system could do little more than band-aid the problems. She felt sad and overwhelmed at work and left each day at court feeling demoralized. She thought, “there must be more; a better way to help families.” As the victim of a property crime herself, she enrolled in a self-defense course. After class, Donna felt optimistic about the possibilities for intervention and resistance to violence. That class changed the trajectory of her career. Five years later, she founded Prepare in 1992.
Women’s self-defense was a radical idea in the ‘70s and still was when our founder took her first Basics class in 1987. These early classes broke ground by incorporating team teaching led by women, communication skills as part of self-defense classes, full contact and full force practice to learn physical resistance skills. Moreover, these initial classes created a safe space for the experience to be powerful emotionally and healing. Women learned from each other that their experiences weren’t isolated aberrations but part of a pattern pointing to larger societal problems.
Prepare now teaches comprehensive evidence-based violence prevention programming for all ages and all genders. We reached 30,000 students a long time ago – tens of thousands of adults, teens and children have participated in experiential safety education. They are now in a position to influence and educate their peers, children, and communities as agents of change.
Like most social movements, the work is hardly done. What that means is that Prepare needs to expand the ways we reach and influence people beyond our in-person classes. I’m humbled by years of reading many world-class writers with extraordinary critical thinking skills – – their work inspires me and challenges me to “do more.” I stand on their shoulders and hope to contribute in some way to conversations on issues of deep importance to us at Prepare. I’ll be joined by guest bloggers along the way.
Perspectives: The Prepare Blog begins with these goals:
- sharing our own unique voice and perspective;
- amplifying the voice of IMPACT sister chapters and others doing anti-violence and anti-bias work; and
- analyzing the messages of our media and society.
That should keep us going for a while!
Next week: Widening our lens; shifting perspective
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