Bringing Teens Together to Talk About Dating Violence

Creating an environment where teens can talk together about dating violence is one of hundreds of ways in which Medical Mission Sisters and our Associates around the world try to be a healing presence to others today.

Medical Mission Sister Teresita Hinnegan founded the Center for the Empowerment of Women in Philadelphia five years ago. Its mission is, “To stop the silence and put an end to all violence against women and girls.”

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month in the U.S. To address this issue, the Center for the Empowerment of Women sponsored a “Spoken Word” event on February 25. It was a Poetry SLAM competition about teen dating violence. Young people between the ages of 13 and 21 were invited to share their feelings, philosophy, and experiences of dating.

Sister Teresita says, “This was a truly collaborative event, led by Aislin Lavin, my volunteer at the Women’s Center, and Stephanie Bartusis, a poet and free lance journalist. Also Christina Stoltz, Director of the Ploome Pilates Studio, was a consultant and very generously offered her studio for the event.”

The Kensington International Business High School’s Guitar Club provided music both before and after the poets shared their pieces. A panel of four judges decided on the top three contenders, who received awards.

Sister Teresita has been a nurse-midwife in Bangladesh, a local and state advocate for maternal-child health in Pennsylvania, and a 20-year faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. She shares, “For me this has been a whole new learning experience including: a new approach to dealing with a social problem (violence against women); an introduction to a part of our culture that is using the art form of the ‘Spoken Word’ to give their message as to how they view societal problem; and a new vocabulary!”

For more information about the Center for the Empowerment of Women, please call 215-609-4360 or e-mail:

March 1, 2012