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MVP students meet with Governor Terry Branstad. Advisors for MVP Mr. Weakland and Mrs. Page pose with MVP members Nicholas Kelly, Vanessa Perez, Jenna Angerman, Katrina Ortiz, Brendan Tripp, Danny Carlson, Jayden Kooyman.

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – The Center for Violence Prevention (CVP) at the University of Northern Iowa and Verizon HopeLine™ co-sponsored the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) School District Luncheon at the Botanical Garden Conference Center in Des Moines on April 6.

Eleven school districts were recognized for their work in training and coaching student mentors to deliver the MVP bullying and violence prevention curriculum to near-peers within their respective schools. School teams of 10-12 individuals attended the event. Teams consisted of students, teachers, counselors and district administrators representing the larger, school-based team of student mentors, allies and supporters. Special luncheon guests included Dr. Bob Donley, executive director of the Iowa Board of Regents and Dr. Ryan Wise, director of the Iowa Department of Education.

School teams participated in small group activities facilitated by Michael Fleming, associate professor of family studies at UNI; Tess Cody, prevention specialist at Crisis Intervention Services in Des Moines; and Alan Heisterkamp, director of the CVP.

“I was really excited to be asked to join MVP last year; when my MVP leaders had meetings with us my freshman year, I thought the world of them,” stated East High School junior, Vanessa Perez.

Verizon/CVP recognition plaques were presented to each school team by Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Verizon representatives Michael McDermott and Meagan Dorsch.

“The luncheon only reaffirmed my decision to become an MVP leader and reminded me of all of the good that the program does,” added Perez.

The CVP’s partnership with Verizon has supported the center in reaching more than 13,000 secondary students in Iowa with bullying and gender violence prevention programming and bystander strategies.