The YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee has always been dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women. Now they’ve got a new initiative: to end violence against women. Period. Through their MEND Forums, they’re aiming to do just that.
Nashville Predators President and COO Sean Henry is one of many community members who are joining the cause and working to make a difference. Henry recently met with YWCA of Nashville & Middle Tennessee CEO Pat Shea and was excited by her message.
“Our goal [with the Predators] is very simple,” Henry told attendees of the MEND Forum held Wednesday morning at Bridgestone Arena. “Be the number one facility in America, built around a Stanley Cup championship team…I heard that same passion in [Pat] when she said, ‘Let’s end violence on women [in Nashville].’ So I said, ‘Okay, now what do we do, we need to start setting that up and doing it.’”
That’s exactly what is beginning to happen. The first of three MEND Forums set to be held at Bridgestone Arena this summer featured a number of speakers, including Shea, Henry, MEND Director and former Vanderbilt Basketball Star Shan Foster and Vanderbilt Head Football Coach Derek Mason, all of whom share a common goal.
The statistics are eye-opening. One in every four women are physically assaulted or abused and one in six will be sexually assaulted. For Henry, who has two daughters of his own and countless other female family members and friends, the numbers hit home. Factor that in with fans who attend 40-plus Predators home games in a season and the number of women who make up those crowds, and the amount of Preds fans who could be affected is staggering.
“Can you imagine what this community is going to be like when we do end it and women don’t have to worry about those things?” Henry asked. “The goal is very simple: end domestic violence. That is it.”
Foster, who played basketball not only at Vanderbilt, but also professionally, is now dedicated to spreading the message, and he wants to start with local youth athletes and their coaches. Foster explained to the group how much of an impact his coaches and mentors provided when he was growing up and influenced him to make the right choices.
He intends to work with Metro Nashville Public Schools, as well as other organizations throughout Middle Tennessee, specifically starting with high school coaches, to spread the message to local youth.
“Nashville will absolutely become the safest city in the world, but only when we teach our boys what healthy masculinity is so that they have the power to make a difference,” Foster said. “We are asking all men to join us as we teach the next generation of boys and young men to ensure that all women are not only safe, but valued. Most men do not commit these crimes, but every man plays a critical part in ending this.”
For more information on upcoming MEND Forums, the Nashville YWCA and how you can get involved, please visit the Nashville YWCA's website.