Wider Horizons

Ron SolinskiA Lethbridge College instructor has developed a project that has students drawing on their knowledge to educate others about the issue of intimate partner violence (IPV).

Dr. Ron Solinski, PhD, an instructor in the college’s Child and Youth Care program, has had students from his family violence class create 20-minute persuasive videos called “If you had 20 minutes to make a difference.” The videos, which were presented to the campus community in October, feature students talking about what they’ve learned and, in some cases, their personal encounters with violence; they also discuss how others might help prevent intimate partner violence in their own lives. In addition to the short films, the students prepared displays focusing on four main areas of discussion: healthy relationships, setting boundaries and healthy breakups; bystander intervention in potentially violent situations; data and statistics regarding IPV; and the impact of media on our understanding of healthy relationships and sexuality.

Solinski, who has over 38 years of experience working in the areas of child and youth care and social work practice, says he discovered that many of the students in his classes had direct experience with being assaulted in a partner relationship. Up to 80 per cent of visible minority students have experienced it. “I said, ‘If you had 20 minutes to talk to people at this institution, what would you like to tell them?’” says Solinski. “I don’t want a boring lecture, I don’t want academia… I want persuasion. I want information that’s going to make a difference in peoples’ thinking.”

Initial support for the project came from the college, which provided Solinski with some release time from his regular duties to explore the logistics of the project and to attend conferences to get up to date with the most current knowledge on the subject of IPV. He was also able to organize production of the first set of student videos. Solinski is currently seeking additional funding to conduct research about the effectiveness of the video project. He would like to conduct research that would include a control group, as well as pre-testing and post-testing about student attitudes toward intimate partner violence. His immediate goal would be to deliver IPV prevention content to students across campus.

The project has been received enthusiastically by many community organizations, including the Lethbridge YWCA, which has provided a donation in kind. CEO Kristine Cassie says, “For any of us who have championed this cause and devoted our life’s work to ending violence, the project speaks to the core needs of early intervention, engagement and awareness – all critical pieces of work that assist in creating the change that is so desperately needed.”

Wider Horizons
Zyna Taylor
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