Voices Against Violence Youth Group


Voices Against Violence Youth Group poster hung up in the halls of BFA. Photo credit: Larissa Hebert

Lianna St. Francis, Writer

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is changing, such as in the way we interact with one another, the education system, restaurants, movie theaters and local organizations. As a response to the pandemic, Olivia Gamsu, an advocate for Voices Against Violence in St. Albans, created and facilitates a youth group on Wednesdays from 5-6 p.m. through Zoom.

“This group is an informal, virtual space for Vermont youth between ages 13 to 22 to chat, offer peer support, play games, watch movies, create art, practice mindfulness-anything related to community connection, to build self-esteem, self-care and healthy relationships,” Gamsu said. The group was created due to feedback from youth across the state saying that individuals were feeling overwhelmed with remote learning, lonely and unheard by adults. “The group gives individuals a place to talk about issues that only they can understand, it is open to all genders and is LGBTQ+ friendly,” Gamsu said. 

If individuals are looking for leadership, organizing and public speaking practice, the group is always looking for youth facilitators. “This is also a great place for individuals interested in learning more about Voices Against Violence. It gives them an opportunity for an internship and volunteer opportunities,” Gamsu said.

Morgan Bourdeau (‘21), a senior at Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans, was an intern at Voices Against Violence working with Gamsu during the fall. Bourdeau’s task was to create a poster that advertised the youth group. These posters can be found around the school. “I would definitely recommend being an intern for Voices Against Violence because even if you decide you don’t want to pursue a career in advocacy, you will learn so much about how to help your community and support your peers in everyday life. Being an intern impacted me in a positive way. I built great relationships and learned so much valuable information about domestic violence and its effects on victims,” Bourdeau said 

When asked what key skills are needed for the internship, Bourdeau said, “I feel the most important key skills needed to be an intern with Voices Against Violence are commitment, understanding of confidentiality, patience, strong communication skills, professional skills and flexibility because things like a pandemic can change plans.”

The group has not yet had any participants. If individuals would like to join, there is a confidential registration that only the facilitator will have access to. In the Voices Against Violence Linktree there is a link that will bring you right to the Zoom meeting every Wednesday from 5-6 p.m. Individuals can also reach out through their hotline at (802) 524-6575 or message the chatline or social media platforms.