Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Advocates Interns Say it with Chocolate
Jasmine Santacruz crafts chocolate candies as part of The ETCs educational campaign.
Friday, February 19, 2021


Chocolate has taken on a new meaning this month as The Advocates’ interns teach their fellow students about forging healthy relationships.

The ETCs, as they call themselves, have spent weekends in the kitchen concocting “healthy relationship chocolates,” which they’re giving away in #LoveIRL gift boxes, along with prints of local teen art and the beginning clue to a scavenger hunt complete with prizes from local businesses.

They’ve melted chocolate, giving candies different forms and flavors. Dark chocolate, for instance, stands for supporting one another through ups and downs, and milk chocolate for accepting one another’s values and beliefs.

The handmade chocolates took on a variety of flavors and shapes.

Peppermint chocolate symbolizes being able to communicate about feelings and concerns, while milk chocolate with marshmallows symbolizes creating an environment of safety, in which one can share thoughts and opinions without fear. White chocolate signals honesty, meaning you’re truthful with your partner or friend and milk chocolate with caramel represents equality since it’s ”a little in the middle.”

The idea behind equality, according to the kids, is making sure each person’s interests and desires are respected.

The campaign dovetails with Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and includes videos featuring local teens.

“This year’s campaign is about challenging the normalization of toxic, unhealthy and abusive relationships that we see in movies, television, books and music,” said Monica Reyna, violence prevention educator at The Advocates. “We realize that teens have been spending a lot of time watching TV and listening to music because of the pandemic. And our goal is to help them recognize and reject portrayals of unhealthy relationships in media.

The gift box included the first clue to a scavenger hunt, which further educates students about healthy and unhealthy relationships.

“By promoting media that depicts healthy relationships with people of many different backgrounds and lived experiences, we will empower young people to treat each other with dignity and respect in their relationships,” she added.

Marcella Fisher, a senior at The Sage School and a second-year ETC, said the project has opened her eyes to the ways in which the media romanticizes toxic relationships through a variety of ways.

“Now that I have learned more, I notice more,” she said.

Sadly, she said, kids are spending more time online because of the pandemic and so they’re being exposed to unrealistic media messages more than ever before.

“I want kids to truly take the phrase ‘don’t trust everything you see online’ more seriously,” she said. “Even in advertisements we see gender roles being portrayed very unhealthily.”

Maeve Coffelt, a freshman at Wood River High School and a first-year ETC, said she has noticed that most of the relationships portrayed in moves and TV shows are toxic. And, with the world relying so heavily on technology, she says people need new skills for addressing healthy relationships online

“I want other kids to know what love actually looks like and to show them that they deserve a relationship full of trust, respect and compassion,” she said. “This campaign demonstrates healthy relationships and their components and tools that kids are often not taught but are crucial.”

Noelle LaFleur, a senior at the Sun Valley Community School and a second-year ETC echoed her sentiments:

“I just want to show my friends and peers that what we see online is oftentimes not healthy and should not be a basis for your own relationships.”


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