February 11, 2019 Society & Politics

West High’s Love Revolution to raise awareness of abuse in relationships


Cheerful, articulate and full of energy, Rosario Chaclon doesn’t seem much like a rabble-rouser.

Yet, the 10th-grader is the brains behind a Love Revolution taking place, all week long, at West High School.

“I met with Rachelle Rawson (advocate and volunteer coordinator with the Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence) who gave me some startling statistics,” the 16-year-old Chaclon explained. “Rachelle told me that whether it was mentally, physically, sexually or emotionally, one teenager out of three has been in an abusive relationship.”

Even though it never happened to her personally, she’s had friends who’ve been in such toxic relationships.

Wanting to bring attention to an underreported problem, Chaclon, a member of West’s student council, began brainstorming ideas.

“I knew abuse was an issue facing many teenagers,” she said. “If we put a spotlight on the problem for an entire week, we could bring it out of the shadows.”

On Monday, students will be encouraged to wear rainbow colors in support of the LGBTQ community.

“There’s always been a stigma with abuse in straight relationships,” Chaclon noted. “In some ways, the stigma’s even greater in LGBTQ relationships.”

On Tuesday, students will be encouraged to wear orange in support of February being Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

The revolution will continue when the Wolverines boys basketball team takes on the Dakota Valley Panthers later in the day.

“Fans from each school will take turns reciting stats during the game,” Chaclon said.

Statistics will also be important on Wednesday, when students will be encouraged to wear anything with a number.

“It will be a very special day,” Chaclon explained. “If only one student experiences violence, that’s one student too many.”

On Thursday — Valentine’s Day — kids will be encouraged to dress in red or pink. On Friday, school pride will be exhibited by wearing green, black and white.

“West is the most diverse school in the city and domestic abuse is something that can impact anybody,” Chaclon said. “By approaching the topic from all angles, we didn’t want to leave anyone out.”

Hiatt Holman, a West 12th-grader and student council president, can’t help but smile at Chaclon’s enthusiasm.

“Rosario knew exactly what she wanted Love Revolution Week to be,” he explained. “The student council essentially said all of these were great ideas. OK, how can we help out?”

However, it wasn’t just the school who wanted to offer assistance. Area businesses will also lend a helping hand.

For instance, Texas Roadhouse, 5130 Sergeant Road, will donate 10 percent of its food purchase sales to the Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence for diners who mention the Love Revolution. Also Starbucks Coffee and Hy-Vee will be selling orange wristbands with “Love Right,” “End Violence” and “#Loverevolution” printed as inscriptions.

Like Holman, West 12th-grader and student council sergeant-of-arms Cristina Valadez has been blown away by Chaclon’s ambition.

“Every time you thought Rosario was done with ideas for the Love Revolution, she’d come with something new,” Valadez said. “Rosario is simply incredible.”

That’s a notion the modest Chaclon quickly deflects.

“Anyone with love in their heart knows it has the power to overcome hate,” she explained. “I think you can start a revolution through love.”

The eldest child with four brothers and two sisters, Chaclon said both love and leadership came naturally for her.

At a time when most of her contemporaries haven’t a clue about life after high school, Chaclon already has hers mapped out.

“I want to go to the University of South Dakota to study pre-med and, then, go to the University of Michigan and become a dentist,” she explained without a moment of hesitation. “Once I become a dentist, I want to work as a missionary, performing dental work in third world countries.”

But, first things first. Chaclon has an entire Love Revolution to supervise.

“When you’re a teenager in an abusive relationship, you feel like it is your fault or you think this only happens to you,” she said, shaking her head. “Neither is true. If we can shine a light on such abusive behavior, then love will win out over anything else.”

View the full story from the Sioux City Journal
By Earl Horlyk