To complete the Pryor Leadership Studies Program at William Jewell College, every Pryor Legacy Senior class must create a project that benefits the community, whether they define it as the Hill or the world. The project allows students to use what they have learned in the program and apply it to a creative, group-designed project. The Tucker Leadership Lab, the Skip-A-Meal program and the covered patios at Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary are examples of prior Pryor Legacy projects.
This year’s Pryor Legacy class has partnered with the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Abuse (MOCSA) and the Independence School District. The project, entitled “End the Cycle: Combating Child Sexual Abuse,” is working toward creating and implementing a sexual abuse prevention training program in area schools and initiating an informed conversation on Jewell’s campus.
“The highest goal is to prevent childhood sexual abuse to the greatest extent possible. Our team also hopes to promote this goal though increasing public awareness about this issue,” said Brit Isbell, senior economics and political science major.
The program, which is called Stewards of Children, is targeted at adults and breaks away from other programs that teach children about sexual abuse.
“Rather than reacting to a problem that already occurred, Stewards of Children is geared toward preventing the problem from occurring at all,” said Cameron VanDyke, senior economics, Spanish and ACT-In major.
At the beginning of the fall semester, students in the Pryor Legacy class presented project proposals, and four were voted on by the class. The final project, originally proposed by senior political science, international relations and ACT-In major Jamie Wallen, was selected. Wallen is an intern and volunteer at MOCSA.
“Jamie is extremely passionate about this cause, and her enthusiasm for the project has definitely rubbed off on other people. This project- or any Pryor Legacy project- would not be possible if the people contributing toward it are not passionate, invested and dedicated,” VanDyke said.
Many factors went into the consideration of a project. The idea of a project being “legacy-worthy” is important.
“Ultimately, we hope to expand this program to schools outside the Independence district. It is very feasible that we will be able to apply this same program to schools in the greater Kansas City area and possibly even beyond,” said VanDyke.
Planning a project of this magnitude requires group effort. The Pryor Legacy class divided themselves into various committees to ensure all members are involved. Committees included: event planning, fundraising, financial, public relations and speakers, as well as a logistics coordinator.
“I am involved on the public relations team and also working on a team to help establish connections in Independence. Our focus is making sure we are all on board to make sure the project is successful,” Morgan Cimpl, senior business administration major, said.
Some tasks are assigned to specific committees and others tasks are a class-wide effort.
“This kind of class-wide collaboration and support is what makes each committee’s primary job successful,” said Jillian Bush, senior political science major.
The class meets weekly to collaborate as a team and communicates with their individual committees throughout the week to work on specific tasks.
The goals for the project are outlined in the mission statement, which the Pryor Legacy Class of 2015 created:
“End the Cycle: Combatting Child Sexual Abuse is an initiative to combat and increase awareness for child sexual abuse through adult education programs. The students of the 2015 Pryor Legacy Class at William Jewell College have partnered with the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault to facilitate Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children program within the Independence school district.”
Fundraising is a major part of this year’s project. The money raised will be used for to pay for the training materials for the Stewards of Children program. The fundraising committee has planned many events, including the recent “Couchless Cartoons” 5K that occurred on Jewell’s campus. There was also a fundraising night at the Liberty Chipotle restaurant.
The Pryor Legacy class has more events planned during the month of April, which is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
On Monday, April 13, the Legacy class will be raising awareness by engaging students with educational handouts in the Union atrium during Jewell time. Friday, April 17, they will be hosting a showing of the documentary “The Line”, during Jewell Time in Gano Chapel, as well as encouraging students and organizations to pledge to avoid the bystander effect. On April 21, the class will host an expert panel discussion featuring speakers on sexual assault and an ice cream social fundraiser. This event is from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in room 221 the Yates-Gill Union. Finally, the class is instituting a student coalition to continue its efforts after its members graduate.