Due to their dedication to the Center of Survivors Revolution program, Columbus teens Luke Przymus and Alisa Torres have been named Youth Volunteers of the Year.
Revolution is a group of teenagers from Scotus, Columbus High and Lakeview who visit other students in the state to talk to them about dating violence, sexual assault and bystander intervention.
Przyums and Torres were selected for the award as they have accumulated the most volunteer hours in Revolution, said Taylor Amsler, supervisor for Revolution and an adolescent/college advocate.
Przymus, who is going into his junior year at Scotus, racked up over 100 hours this year. Torres is a recent Columbus High graduate who has accumulated over 250 hours in her four years with Revolution. They both started volunteering at Revolution when they were freshmen in high school.
“They’re awesome to work with. Both of them are part of our theater group so we get to spend a lot of time with them,” Amsler said. “Luke especially has put in a lot of hours by playing the batterer in our dramatization.”
During the presentations, the teens act out simulations of dating violence and abuse. Przymus plays the abusive boyfriend while Torres often plays the sexual assault victim.
“We go around to schools and show what sexual assault and domestic violence look like,” Przymus explained. “A lot of people don’t know what that looks like in a teenage situation so we try to portray that in a way they understand.”
Amsler noted that Przymus has been especially active in the theater portion of Revolution.
“Usually we have two people for each role, but we have had one person for the last school year, and he really stepped up,” Amsler said. “He did every presentation, came to almost every practice and stayed on top of all the other events he does for Rev.”
At community events, Torres can often be seen face painting for the kids while Przymus hangs out and plays sports with children.
“We’ve also gone to a lot of parades and county fairs to outreach there by passing out Center for Survivors items and talking to the public about what the Center does and what Revolution is, especially last year,” Amsler said. “They like going to those events where they can do outreach to the community.”
The teens have also assisted Amsler during presentations in which she teaches students how to be a bystander witnessing abuse taking place and how to react when a friend confides about experiencing dating violence.
“Spending time with them, you can see their passion, see how they want to change the world,” Amsler said. “They want to teach people about the dangers and how to be safe with healthy dating and with sexual violence. They really both just go above and beyond what they have to do in order to create change.”
Torres said she was especially thrilled to find out about the award.
“I feel pretty excited,” Torres said. “Revolution, I put my all into it. I really just try my best to volunteer as much as I can.”
Torres has enjoyed her four years with Revolution as it allowed her to help teach her peers about what dating violence looks like and how to assist them during a time of need.
“It gives you the knowledge you need to help a friend in need of that knowledge who can’t understand or can’t help themselves,” Torres said. “I feel like people need help through a tough time in a situation like that.”
Torres has also been involved with various clubs through her high school career, notably marching band and choir. She plans on attending the University of Nebraska in Omaha to study business administration.
“Alisa is always willing to volunteer for everything, and she does it with a big smile and a bubbly personality,” a release from Revolution stated. “We are so grateful for the time we have spent with Alisa throughout her high school career, and we know that she will go on to be a strong advocate for victims into college and adulthood.”
Przymus was also surprised by the award. At school, he’s is also involved with theater, as well as the Shamrock Singers and the speech team. He also plays football and soccer.
“It’s not something I expected but I’m very pleased and honored,” he said.
Usually, the Youth Volunteers of the Year would be recognized at an annual meeting but, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting has been postponed.
Looking for a Revolution
Formerly known as the Center for Survivors Speakers Bureau, the program was revamped in the 2000s and named after The Beatles song, “Revolution.”
Amsler noted that she was in the program when she was in high school herself; back then, the program had about 20 teens participating. With the revamp, Revolution has grown to 45 participants.
Revolution teens are typically nominated and approached about joining the program. The kids are then vetted through discussions with community members; the nominees are rated based on responsibility, willingness to help and other factors. Amsler said that a committee will then decide who will be invited to join the group; often committee members must choose from a list of up to 150 names each year.
“We train them on how to respond if kids come up to them to tell their stories of trauma so that they are able to say the right thing and make those referrals to us so that we are able to help those kids,” Amsler said. “We know that when a kid has something that went on that is scary, that they’re not going to go to an adult first, they’re going to a friend first.”
Amsler said Revolution helps an underserved population that, despite their age, still falls victim to abusive relationships.
“Adolescents and young adults might think a dating violence situation or sexual assault situation as just that bad thing that happened,” she said. “We want to educate them on what dating violence is and what sexual assault is so that they’re able to identify that in their own lives and their friends’ lives because they’re not able to get help for it if they don’t know they’ve been a victim.”
Hannah Schrodt is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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