What is MVP?

The low down on West's Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Program

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Olaoluwa Johnson

West social worker Jenn O'Hare talks to student mentors about their next visit to the freshman advisories to discuss violence at all levels for the Mentors in Violence Prevention program.

Olaoluwa Johnson, Reporter

The Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program was created in 1993 by Dr. Jackson Katz and his colleagues reports MVP Strategies. MVP was established in order to bring awareness to and prevent gender based violence, sexual harassment, and bullying. 

Mentors in MVP  consist of 38 students who attend and educate 18 freshman advisory classrooms. In these freshman classes, mentors conduct several activities that address different forms of violence.

“It [MVP] is an evidence based prevention program that works to inform younger students about current issues and to understand that they have the ability to intervene in situations,” social worker and MVP advisor Jenn O’Hare said.

Within its time span, MVP has been implemented in hundreds of high schools and colleges nationwide, even being used in the United States military. The MVP program was implemented at West High School the summer of 2018; however, the program had been used previously by other high schools in Iowa. Although still new to West, MVP has had several positive effects on the students attending the programs as well as the mentors. 

“MVP has had an impact. I see it in the kids’ eyes when we’re teaching them and when I see them in the hallways,” junior Isabelle Freund said.

Unlike other programs where teaching students the importance of understanding and responding to violence are often led by teachers, MVP uses peer leadership to conduct classes. Through the use of several instructional sessions that students are required to take prior to becoming mentors, individuals can learn how to respond to and instruct others on violence. In these training sessions students learn how to properly handle conflict and conduct for their future classes.

“Before you become a mentor you have to go to multiple training sessions trainings and you will meet with Dr. Alan Heisterkamp. He does most of the training,” senior Americaus Geest said. 

Current MVP mentors are a diverse set of individuals who were selected by O’Hare through recommendations and applications. Students interested in learning about or joining MVP can seek more information from O’Hare.

“I want my MVP population to be reflective of our student body. I want young men. I want young women. I want people of color. I want people who identify with whatever type of sexuality, religion, socio-economic status because the more reflective of our population we are, the more powerful it will be,” O’Hare said.