New York Giants Football Players Lead Powerful Discussion with Mount Vernon Athletes About Domestic Violence, Respect
Members of the Mount Vernon High School varsity and junior varsity football teams recently sat down with New York Giants football running back Johnathan Stewart and linebacker Alec Ogletree to discuss the topic of domestic violence. The educational session, led by My Sisters’ Keeper Director of Community Education and Prevention Brintha Jeyalingam, was held at Traphagen School on Wednesday, October 17, 2018.
For more than 20 years, the New York Giants football team has been a partner of My Sisters’ Place, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to end violence in intimate relationships and combat the effects of domestic violence and human trafficking in Westchester County. New York Giants’ players met with Mount Vernon High School athletes to educate them on the physical, mental and economic impact of domestic violence that affects more than 10 million men and women each year.
“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,” said Dr. Kenneth R. Hamilton, Mount Vernon City School District Superintendent. “I am very pleased that the New York Giants organization is here and selected out 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.”
More than 50 Mount Vernon City School District students gathered along with their football coaches to join in the discussion about healthy relationships.
“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,” said Jeyalingam to the crowd of students. “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,” said Stewart. “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.”
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. Respect, communication, and trust were among some of the students’ responses.
“Equality, respect, and safety are the core foundational aspects of a healthy relationship,” said Jeyalingam. “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.”
“Instead of working with negative people, you have to put positive people around you,” said Ogletree. “When you’ve got positivity around you, nothing but greatness can happen.”
Wednesday afternoon’s discussion was the beginning of a partnership between the District and My Sisters’ Keeper. Over the next few months, representatives of My Sisters’ Keeper will be coming back into the schools to talk more about healthy relationships and lead workshops with Mount Vernon students.
While they were on-site, Giants players and coaches also engaged in football practice drills with members of the Mount Vernon High School varsity and junior varsity football teams.