Teen activist to give self-defense seminar at ENMU

By Zuo Yang: PNT Staff Writer

Dangerous situations and dating rights are the topics for a national show at Eastern New Mexico University.

The 6 p.m. April 9 program at the Eastern New Mexico University Theater Center will feature Dallas Jessup teaching young adults how to deal with dangerous situations. The event is free to the public.

“April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and our Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) wanted to find an effective outlet to educate young women in our area,” said Amber Hamilton, administrator of Sexual Assault Services of Eastern New Mexico, an event sponsor.“‘Just Yell Fire’ is a great program that will teach young women how to reduce their risk of being sexually assaulted.”

The seminar focuses on empowerment, knowing your rights, safety awareness, safe dating, street fighting, self defense and a dating bill of rights. Jessup will make a brief presentation on volunteerism, which is based on her teen activism book.

“I believe our local sponsors and event hosts are seeking to create an open, acceptable environment for attendees to talk about sexual assault and risk reduction.” Hamilton said. “It can be a difficult subject for families to discuss and we want to help get the conversation started”

Jessup, described by People magazine as the one who “gives girls the power to stand up and fight back,” grew a community service project into the seminar. When she was a 13-year-old black belt martial artist, she created a home movie to teach self-defense techniques. Jessup put the film online for free download and raised money to produce and ship free copies to those in need.

In two years, nearly a million downloads have been made and multiple awards were given to her and her organization including the President’s Volunteer Service award and Jefferson Award for Community Service. Jessup was a 2008 inductee into the to the Caring Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C.