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Orange Out games to raise teen dating violence awareness

Jan. 30—GREENSBURG — For February's Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, leaders of Decatur County domestic violence agency New Directions work with local teens to increase awareness and stop dating abuse before it starts. For the second year, New Directions Teen Council is using "Orange Out" as a theme for a home basketball game at each local school: Greensburg High School, North Decatur and South Decatur Jr. Sr. High schools.

Each school is selling orange T-shirts for $10 and students are encouraged to wear orange at each of the games. The GHS game is against Madison at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 10. The NDHS game is against Southwestern at 7:30 p.m. North Decatur students wearing an Orange Out T-shirt will receive a free bag of popcorn. The SDHS game is also the school's Senior Night with the junior varsity game beginning at 6 p.m. and the varsity game beginning at 7:30 p.m., both against Knightstown.

New Directions strive to increase social consciousness about domestic violence and to assist individual victims by helping them break from the cycle of abuse, Executive Director Kelly Wampler said at a recent Lunch and Learn event hosted by the Greensburg Decatur County Chamber of Commerce. The victims/clients served by New Directions never pay for those services.

Recently hired Youth Educator and Prevention Case Manager Grace Allgeier oversees youth outreach to all three local schools in Decatur County.

Allgeier started by revamping the Safe Dates program, which teaches youth signs and frequency of teen dating violence, how to create safe environments and what to do in situations regarding teen dating violence.

"I wanted to make the program more interactive so the kids weren't just listening to me speak the entire time because when we had guest speakers in high school and junior high, I was in la la land," Allgeier said. "If it's interactive and we can have activities with the kids, they can get more out of it. I do scenarios rather that just ask 'Did you know one in three teens will be abused by the time they graduate high school?'"

Allgeier works with New Directions Teen Council groups at each school with North Decatur having the largest group of about 20 students.

"Facts are important, but actually thinking about what you're going to do if you're ever in this type of situation, thinking maybe I should go talk to a guidance counselor or a parent. ... Thinking along those lines to try to get them engaged and thinking about real life situations, because a lot of kids didn't realize that it [teen dating violence] happens here in Decatur County," Allgeier said. "If it didn't happen, I wouldn't have a job."

In addition to the Orange Out games, Allgeier worked with Teen Council members and will post a statistic with a visual aid (created by the students) to Instagram every day in February to raise awareness.

Working on their 26th year serving Decatur County, their funding comes from Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding as well as donations and a federal grant called the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), which is the primary federal funding stream slotted for fighting domestic violence and serving those affected by it as well as their children.

Anyone wishing to support New Directions can do so on their website at https://www.mynewdirections.org/get-involved.

Contact Josie Clark at josie.clark@greensburgdailynews.com or 812-651-0873.