YES!, “Your Empowered Sexuality, Inc.” of Montclair empowers students to consent or not through on-site educational workshops and self awareness group discussions.
Recently, kindergarteners at the Montclair Cooperative School, locally known as The Co-Op, had the opportunity to participate in a special event. They were joined by “Yes!”, a non-profit organization that is aimed at providing education about consent, through a series of fun and interactive workshops.
“Yes!” was created in 2015 by Montclair High School alumnae, Eve Gutman, Isy Abraham-Raveson, Rebecca Klein, and Natalie Smyth. In 2016 they incorporated as “Your Empowered Sexuality, Inc.” a 501c-3. Donations to YES are fully tax deductible.
The founders felt that they had not been provided with adequate education about consent at a time where they needed it: high school. “Yes!”, an organization which would provide that essential education, was their answer to this problem. Since its creation, the organization, and its purpose have grown and developed. As Natalie Smyth, The Director of Online Engagement, explained, “Our current goal is to provide shame-free, sex-positive, body-positive, empowering sexuality education from an intersectional feminist perspective to as many people as possible”.
Of course, the Co-Op kindergarteners were not learning about sexual consent. They were learning about consent in a simpler, easier way to understand. Consent in regards to being hugged, get a handshake, or a kiss on the cheek. “The idea being that even if you are five years old you are still in charge of your body”. Teaching the fundamental idea that everyone has the right to decide whether they want to be touched, was one of the main ideas of the event. The volunteers from “Yes!” taught this lesson through a bunch of different workshops. Some workshops included having the kids decide what to do in different made-up scenarios, such as if their friend were to back away from a hug. The kids had to figure out what to do in that scenario: to keep going in for a hug or to give their friend some space. Another workshop included coloring in pictures that explained boundaries with regards to different body parts. Overall, “through a series of activities, we helped the kids think through different ways to respect others’ bodies”.
This is not the first time that “Yes!” has collaborated with the Co-Op. They have had several previous workshops which have been just as successful. Furthermore, “Yes!” works with middle schoolers, to educate them on sexual orientation and gender identity. They are always looking for ways they can educate people, from kindergarten age through to adult, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for any workshop requests. Their website, www.yestoconsent.org, has more information regarding the organization and also a link to their blog: Verbatim, where people can safely and anonymously share their experiences.
Yes! Is fully supported by the members themselves, through countless volunteer hours and by generous contributions from concerned citizens.
Donations are tax deductible and can be made through their website’s “donate” button linked here.