Members of the Mount Vernon varsity and JV football teams recently met with New York Giants running back Jonathan Stewart and linebacker Alex Ogletree to discuss domestic violence.
The special meeting was arranged by My Sisters’ Place, which has a mission to end violence in intimate relationships and combat the effects of domestic violence and human trafficking in Westchester.
More than 50 athletes in Mount Vernon gathered with their coaches to have a discussion with the pros about healthy relationships.
“One of the issues that’s facing our nation is the increase in violence happening across all communities and all socioeconomic groups. Demographically and geographically, domestic violence has no boundaries,” Mount Vernon Schools Superintendent Kenneth Hamilton said. “I am very pleased that the New York Giants organization is here and selected our students to be a part of this initiative with My Sisters’ Place to help prevent the spread of this issue and help us to become better people and citizens in the communities that we represent.”
My Sisters’ Keeper Director of Community Education and Prevention Brintha Jeyalingam noted that the New York Giants and her organization have been partners addressing domestic violence for years.
“The New York Giants and My Sisters’ Place have had a longtime partnership working together to address domestic violence, but also to highlight how young people like you can work on building healthy relationships both in the school, but also in your community,” she said to the crowd of students at the Traphagen School. “As student-athletes, you are leaders in your schools and that comes with challenges, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility.”
“You guys are idolized at your school and that’s a lot of pressure,” Stewart added. “I’m a big proponent of leading by example. Each one of you can lead in your own way, but it’s up to you to decide what type of leader you want to be. Don’t be afraid to do the right thing and stand up for what’s right; you can be that one voice of light.”
Ogletree noted that, “instead of working with negative people, you have to put positive people around you. When you’ve got positivity around you, nothing but greatness can happen.”
Over the course of an hour, students had the opportunity to participate in a conversation about healthy relationships, sharing their thoughts about what qualities can be shown both on and off the field to foster positive relationships. They later took to the field and ran drills with the pros.
“Equality, respect, and safety are the core foundational aspects of a healthy relationship,” Jeyalingam said. “Without those things, both people or one person in a relationship might be feeling a lot of the hurt and the pain. These are things I know you have shown: commitment, responsibility and trust.
"You have to trust each other out on the field, but when you walk off the field, there are opportunities to show the very same qualities with others, whether it’s somebody that you like or someone you’re just starting to date or someone you want to show affection for.”
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