Awarded funds will be used to facilitate LGBTQ+ equity trainings for local community members, with special emphasis on schools in an effort to reach local LGBTQ+ youth populations. These trainings will be provided by Wesley Cook, Resident in Counseling at Family Service of Roanoke Valley. Cook also serves as a board member for the Roanoke Diversity Center. At each middle and high school, Cook will provide in-person trainings to the students and virtual trainings to teachers. At the end of each training, participants will be invited to take a special survey, which will measure local data trends and collect testimonials from the local community concerning the effectiveness of the training. As an incentive to participate in the survey, participants will be entered into a drawing for a $50 amazon gift card.
In addition to the school-based trainings, Cook will also offer two virtual community trainings through partnerships with the Southside Wellness Coalition and Tri-County Community Action. These community trainings will be advertised in the local newspapers for each county as well as through targeted Facebook ads. As an incentive to participate in the trainings, community members will be offered training completion certificates and stickers to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community. Just as with the school-based trainings, community members will also be offered the opportunity to participate in the survey with a chance to win an Amazon gift card as a “Thank You” for their participation.
Overall, this should help reduce the rate of LGBTQ+ suicides by raising awareness through education, creating safe and affirming spaces, and supporting youth outreach for those exploring or identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Specifically, through our outreach and partnerships with the local school systems, we will be able to initiate youth support groups for LGBTQ+ teens.