Mentors in Violence Prevention at Kennedy

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Emma Beachner

Students listen to an MVP lesson on suicide ideation.

Emma Beachner, writer

Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) started at Kennedy in 2016 after an increase in violent crimes in Cedar Rapids. The Safe, Equitable and Thriving Communities (SET) implemented MVP into all CRCSD high schools to combat these crimes. Though Cedar Rapids schools were introduced to MVP in 2016, the program was started by Jackson Katz in 1993 for use in professional sports. 

At Kennedy, upperclassmen teach lessons to freshmen once a month. With interactive tactics and imaginative scenarios, the program covers uncomfortable topics that aren’t taught in normal classes. Including the prevention of gender violence, sexual harassment and bullying. MVP emphasizes the power a person has to intervene and speak up. 

Jennifer Wagner, the teacher who leads MVP at Kennedy, says she has seen and heard of students who step up against violence because of skills they learned through MVP. 

Though we can’t catch or see all the ways MVP has impacted our school community, we push ourselves to stay focused on the fact that this is good work and the right conversation to lead,” said Wagner.

MVP’s main goals are to increase awareness of abuse, break stereotypes in social settings and inspire leadership. 

Sophomore Riana Kraft, a Kennedy mentor, hopes as more students engage in the program they will continue the conversations outside of the classroom. 

For more information or if you would like to join contact Jennifer Wagner at [email protected] or stop by room 64E.