By Samantha Ossip, NCJW|LA Volunteer
Sexual Violence can be a difficult subject to talk about leading many to shy away from even discussing it. This has not stopped The Talk Project team, a group of fearless high schoolers who are unafraid to talk about sexual violence. They have taken on the task to educate their peers on this important subject. NCJW|LA’s The Talk Project is a peer-to-peer program in which high schoolers present on topics surrounding sexual violence, consent, rape culture, and body image to other high schoolers.
The Talk Project works to make sexual violence a topic that high schoolers can feel comfortable talking about and learning about. Having people their own age lead these presentations creates an environment where students feel more comfortable and connected to what they learn and who they are learning from. The goal of this program is to “de-stigmatize the discussion of sexual violence in order to empower students.” The Talk Project’s interactive presentations aim to help students understand the causes of sexual violence, promote healthy relationships, inspire students to speak out against sexual assault, and create a culture where students feel safe and open to talk about sexual violence.
Lily Spar, a Co-Chair of The Talk Project, joined The Talk Project team two years ago when she learned about it at a high school community service fair. She has been passionate about sexual violence awareness ever since she joined and has lead several school presentations, the peer educator’s monthly meetings, and different programs. She is currently heading their video campaign that discusses the importance of communication and consent.
The Talk Project not only leads school presentations but has worked on several different projects surrounding the issue of sexual assault. Last year, they hosted an art gallery that exhibited pieces on body image and rape culture. Their most recent project was Get Crafty With Consent where students made art inspired by The Talk Project’s presentation on sexual violence and consent.
Lily is excited for their upcoming event with the Skirball Cultural Center where they will be showing the movie “Grease” and holding a discussion afterwards on how the movie promotes rape culture.
Alexa Hirsh, another Co-Chair of The Talk Project, is passionate about sexual violence advocacy and education saying that “sexual violence is something that is so prevalent and an important issue that is hardly touched upon at school.” The Talk Project fills the gap that most schools fail to do and provides free education on the difficult topic of sexual assault and consent. Alexa believes that “sexual violence is something that is true to everyday life that we as high school students need to know about and educate our friends and family about.”
The Talk Project has made a major impact on the Los Angeles High school population by giving them a free forum to learn and discuss sexual violence and the culture that surrounds it. “Even if only one person gets something out of the presentations, it is already a success,” Lily said about the presentations they give. She remembers a student coming up to her after her presentation and thanking Lily for coming to talk to her school. The girl mentioned how she felt that there was rape culture at her school and she was very grateful to have kids her own age come in and educate her class and share their stories.
The Talk Project members hope to expand their program and they are currently working on a universal curriculum that can be used by peer educators all over. They want to make sexual violence education accessible to all students and hope that their curriculum will help people outside of Los Angeles educate themselves and others on the issue.
Get involved with The Talk Project! FOR TEENS: The next Peer Educator training for The Talk Project will be Aug 14-17 from 10am-12:30pm at NCJW|LA Council House. VOLUNTEERS OF ALL AGES: Help The Talk Project expand and connect with more schools! To get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more on The Talk Project, visit changethetalk.org.
Samantha Ossip is an upcoming Junior at Tulane University studying Social Policy and Sociology