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Young women speaking at a Climate March in Boulder, Colorado

SPEAK supports youth in empowering their voices for self and civic advocacy. SPEAK co-founder, Dr. Chelsea Hackett, and I have partnered since 2014 with the MAIA Impact School for Indigenous Maya women in Guatemala to develop the SPEAK curriculum for vocal empowerment, which we define as reaching a state of comfort and ability with vocal expression that allows a person’s intended content to be expressed. Partnering with professors from CU’s Speech, Language, Hearing Science, we conducted research with our Guatemalan partners to establish our approach as an evidence-based practice for supporting vocal empowerment for participants. This curriculum has also been run with partners in Tanzania, Egypt, and the USA.

     Our continued work on vocal empowerment through SPEAK will focus on the issue of sexual safety. In partnership with Boulder High School, we will pilot the SPEAK Vocal Empowerment Program in the Health classrooms from 2020-2021 as a mixed-methods Youth Participatory Action Research (Y-PAR) project to (1) utilize a Y-PAR model to support young people in identifying possible areas of support and solutions that they see to shifting sexual violence dynamics in their local community and (2) measure the impact of the program on youth self-efficacy and confidence, which is correlated to successful bystander intervention in sexual violence. This research is supported by CU’s Renée Crown Wellness Institute Seed Grant.

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