What is Game Change?
Game Change: The Patriots Anti-Violence Partnership is an educative alliance between Northeastern University, the New England Patriots and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (AGO), whose goal is to foster long-term anti-violence and healthy relationship education with the focus of developing student leaders to train their peers.
Game Change is a multi-phased initiative funded by owner of the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft, and The New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, as well as the AGO. The training encourages facilitated conversations about issues like relationship abuse, consent, and respectful communication. Phase One began in 2015 with the selection of 30 high schools across the state to partner with a local domestic and sexual violence prevention organization. Through these partnerships, organizations were able to educate school staff, coaches, and parents, and to be an available resource for students and families in need of help.
In each of those 30 schools, students trained to become peer leaders. Those students will help teach younger students about healthy relationships and bystander intervention for years to come. Attorney General Maura Healey said it best in 2015 when she held a press conference announcing the Game Change Anti-Violence Partnership:
“We know that a key to preventing violence is intervening with our young people at an early age. The earlier we can educate young people about healthy relationships, the earlier we can build a sense of dignity and respect in how they treat others, and greater chance we have of making a difference.”
Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP)
The Game Change initiative leverages a model called Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP), first developed by Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society and the National Consortium for Academics & Sports in 1993. Teachers and coaches in particular receive special MVP training through this program. The intention is that coaches and teachers will then return to their schools and train school personnel, while also creating a curriculum to implement year after year, impacting thousands of kids and creating real change here in Massachusetts.
The MVP’s purpose is most clearly defined in a press release from the Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni’s Task Force on Domestic Violence in 2016, “The multi-racial MVP Program was designed to train male college and high school student-athletes and other student leaders to use their status to speak out against rape, battering, sexual harassment, gay-bashing, and all forms of sexist abuse and violence.”
According to the NCAS Annual Report, “MVP has also been so successful with college and high school athletes that all branches of the United States military have adopted the program.”
The MVP approach to working with men is built on the foundation that men who have status with other men are in a notable position to influence how men and boys view and treat women and girls. These exceptionally powerful men are then empowered to use their status to renounce any definition of masculinity which equates being a man with being sexist, disrespectful or violent toward women, or bullying other males or people in general. This message on the true meaning of ‘manliness’ coming from the New England Patriots and its affiliates speaks volumes to young men.
To learn more about Game Change: The New England Patriots Anti-Violence Partnership, please visit mass.gov
To learn more about the MVP curriculum, please click here.
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