Monsoon’s violence prevention program is guided by community change strategies, such as mass mobilization, social action, public advocacy, and empowerment theory and participatory action research. The program focuses on Asian and Pacific Islander youths from middle and high schools in central Iowa. Monsoon believes that youths are vital to the movement to end gender-based violence and the best source to tap into for the prevention of sexual violence. The program was set up in 2008, and since then, numerous youths from five schools around Des Moines have joined in – as interns, peer-to-peer advocates, volunteers and participants. Through internships, in-school and after-school programs, and community education events, Monsoon began to increase awareness about sexual assault, dating violence and stalking under the program. The curricula for the in-school and after-school programs focused on analyzing culture, histories of oppression, forms of violence and violence prevention in API communities, so the youths were thoroughly informed. Monsoon’s youth interns have also attended national conferences and made presentations as well as received trainings, such as from the Center for Digital Storytelling in California.
The annual API youth summit, which the interns helped organize in Des Moines with community partners since 2010, was totally revamped in 2014, and under the guidance of three members of AF3IRM, a community organizer group based in California, the Summer School of Youth Activism came into being.
Among several other related events have been an interactive gathering on addressing dating violence in collaboration with LGBTQ youths; breakdancing jams; Flash Mobs; and Forum Theater performances. Families of the youth interns are encouraged to participate in the program to educate and motivate API communities on ending gender-based violence. The program is available to help facilitate other violence prevention projects in schools and community organizations as well as for presenting at youth conferences.
The program, currently only in Des Moines, includes a coordinator and 4 middle and high school youth interns. The team will continue to partner with the Des Moines Art Center; publish quarterly ’zines and podcasts; address issues on Title IX in Central Iowa schools; and plan for Dating Violence Month 2018, Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2018 and the 2018 Summer School of Youth Activism. The team is also preparing for an after-school program at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines starting this September 2018.