Jo Ann Lee and Maneesha Gammana-Liyanage from Parenting: It’s a Life (PIAL) spent the second part of their Washington adventure with the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WSCADV). They saw their trip as an opportunity to meet with WSCADV, who originally developed the teen dating violence simulation PIAL utilizes called In Their Shoes.
Lee was originally introduced to a version of the simulation called In Her Shoes while at a training in Kansas City. She said, “It was an extremely powerful experience, and I remember thinking, ‘If there isn't a teen version of this, I’m going to create one.’ It is a perfect complement to our Healthy Relationships module. I got back to the office and looked up WSCADV, and, sure enough, they had a teen version!”
Since In Their Shoes originated at WSCADV, Lee wanted to share with them findings from data PIAL has collected and some ways PIAL has enhanced the experience. Enhancements include adding pictures of the characters, developing table-talk questions, making a PowerPoint presentation, and creating post-simulation activities.
“I am a firm believer in hooking people at the heart level. This was especially important as I considered the audience of youth ages 13-18 years old,” said Lee. Following this belief, PIAL added a funeral setting to accompany one of the simulations storylines in which one teen is murdered by their partner. When these new developments and the impact they achieved were presented to WSCADV, Gammana-Liyanage said they were very supportive.
“We could see that they were almost overwhelmed with how much we were able to do with the simulation without damaging the original content,” Gammana-Liyanage stated. She and Lee received useful feedback from WSCADV regarding terminology and they were encouraged to find more ways to dive deep into underlying topics in the simulation such as race and minority vulnerability in dating violence.
The PIAL staff left Washington feeling encouraged and excited about the work they have done and for what the future holds for In Their Shoes. Lee was particularly happy with the feedback from WSCADV, saying, “It was affirming to hear them say things like, ‘thank you for infusing life into this important work’.” Speaking about the trip in general, she said, “It was inspiring both professionally and personally!”