Editor’s Note: This post was written by Dallas Jessup, founder of Just Yell Fire, a nonprofit combating violence and abuse against young women and girls. Dallas was awarded the World of Children Youth Award in 2012. In this article, Dallas shares her thoughts and feelings on 2013 and what role World of Children played in the year’s success.
2013 was awesome. Thank you World of Children from the 2+ million girl revolution: Just Yell Fire. Many girls’ lives were positively impacted directly because of your generous support over the course of this year.
What’s great about the holiday season is life slows just enough that we have time to reflect on the year’s challenges, accomplishments, and stories. Yet better, this is a time when we get to express appreciation to family and friends who are important in our lives, and as part of the World of Children family we have the chance to share some of the powerful moments made possible from World of Children-supported Just Yell Fire efforts.
You already know that we’ve taken on the social crisis of violence and abuse against young women and girls with a powerful remedy: knowledge. We let girls know they have rights (to be safe from violence, to stand up for themselves…); we educate them about dangers that make 1 in 3 of them victims (dating abuse, random violence…); we show them how to live a great life while avoiding these dangers; and we empower them with easy self defense tools so they can get away from trouble when it finds them.
We never know the full extent of our effect as we have free tools (to the girls because of World of Children and a few generous others) online for girls and schools to use to spread the Just Yell Fire stay safe message and method. There are literally millions of downloads, but we do sometimes get to see our effect one girl at a time. I just received an email from an 11 year old girl letting us how she escaped a rape attempt by her cousin and his friend (13) because of what she had learned from the Just Yell Fire film. She’s a hero in my book and she reminds us why we do what we do. There are other individual stories but this one drove home the message most recently that these are real girls in really horrific situations and they deserve to live a life free of fear. Something good happened here in 2013.
As you know we don’t sit around and let the Internet do all the work with these downloads, although our website impacted 90% of the world’s countries this year, including in China, North Korea, and Iran where women’s rights are illusory at best. Something good happened to tens of thousands in each of those countries because of you in 2013.
Excuse my excitement (and accept our appreciation) but let me share another great moment enabled by World of Children. Several groups in North Carolina (#1 State in the U.S. for domestic violence) asked if we could bring the Just Yell Fire program to their state which has the highest rate of violence against women and girls. We put on a program there and hundreds of girls from across the state, some traveling 6 and 7 hours, arrived on a score of buses. Elected officials, law enforcement, children’s and women’s advocates, and the media joined in for a multi-hour event where these girls learned how to be smarter and faster than the men who would do them harm. I looked out on the sea of excited young faces and I knew many would stand up to abuse, escape soul-crushing sexual assaults, and would become hundreds of catalysts of social change as they spread the word that it’s okay to stand up for yourself. Something good happened there in 2013 and I gave thanks to World of Children as I stood on that stage and others.
You’ve seen the great national and local media coverage of Just Yell Fire during 2013 on our website at www.justyellfire.org , the schools adopting our program, the trainers in many states investing their time to learn and take our information back to keep their girls safe. 2013 was awesome for Just Yell Fire: parents thanking us for saving the life of their daughter, teachers wrapping us into their curriculum, and more viral success, but I thank you particularly for the better life that the 11 year old girl will have, and the better lives to be enjoyed by thousands of others, directly because of our partnership with World of Children. You rock. 2013 really was awesome. A lot of good things happened.
– Dallas Jessup, Just Yell Fire