Anti-violence group to raise $25,000 on 25th anniversary

khui@newsobserver.comApril 7, 2014 

  • SAVE’s fundraising campaign

    Go to http://bit.ly/1fWx1HC for information on how to donate to SAVE’s campaign to raise $25,000 to start new chapters in schools.

On Tuesday, Garner High School students will be asked to sign a pledge to take a stand against violence.

Later in the week, Garner High students will get an up-close chance to see the dangers of texting while driving – in a golf cart in a controlled area on campus. They will also “silence the violence” by not speaking in school for a day.

It’s all part of National Youth Violence Prevention Week activities sponsored by the school’s chapter of the National Association of Students Against Violence Everywhere.

Since 1989, SAVE chapters have been encouraging students from elementary school through college to look for ways to reduce violence. To celebrate the group’s 25th anniversary, SAVE is trying to raise $25,000 to start or renew 125 chapters nationally.

“We know that the best way of preventing youth violence is through other youth,” Carleen Wray, the executive director of Raleigh-based National SAVE, said Monday. “SAVE is making a difference in the school climate.”

Wray said the money is especially needed now when schools have made cuts to extracurricular activity budgets that fund efforts such as SAVE chapters. With 13 school shootings nationally in the first six weeks of 2014 alone, Wray said SAVE is needed more than ever.

The first SAVE chapter was founded in 1989 at West Charlotte High School by students in response to the death of a classmate who was trying to break up a fight at an off-campus party. SAVE has now expanded to more than 2,100 chapters in 48 states and seven countries.

Over the years, students in SAVE chapters have warned their classmates about a variety of dangers such as bullying, drunken driving and expressing their anger violently.

Anna Tsui, 17, a senior at Chapel Hill High School, said SAVE helps overcome the attitude that students pick up beginning in elementary school about not tattling even when they’re being bullied.

“SAVE informs people about the ways you can deal with bullying,” said Tsui, a member of SAVE’s national youth advisory board.

One of SAVE’s major efforts is National Youth Violence Prevention Week as chapters hold events leading up to Saturday’s 14th SAVE summit in Raleigh.

Vickie Szarek, the SAVE chapter adviser at Garner High, said that if any of the group’s activities cause a student to not drink at an after-prom party or to not text while driving, then they’re making a difference.

“I know we have an impact,” said Szarek, who was named the National SAVE Advisor of the Year in 2012. “Do we make an impact on all 2,500 students? I’m not Pollyanna enough to think that. But if we can impact a student here to make the right choice, we’ve done our job.”

Hui: 919-829-4534

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