Youth Out Loud had it's start in Washington, D.C. in 2004, where YOL's founder and director Joanne Vannicola had taken a stage play about child sexual abuse to Suitland High School. She held workshops about anti-violence issues and youth rights, held auditions, and rehearsed the play for the stage event of the Race To Stop the Silence before the runners left the gates for the 5 and 10K. The Race to Stop the Silence is a national race in the U.S. that raises money for service providers and survivors of child sexual abuse.
Sharon Simone, an amazing advocate and sexual abuse survivor herself, Headwaters, co-directed the Race to Stop the Silence along with Pam Pine. Simone invited Joanne to go to Washington in 2004, after she learned about Youth Out Loud. This inspired Vannicola to register YOL as a non-profit. The city of Toronto responded. Toronto recognized Vannicola and YOL by dedicating June 16th as the day to raise awareness about child sexual abuse.
Youth Out Loud participated in the 2005 event in Washington, contributing its second original script about sexual violence. It was also performed on the stage event prior to the race. The scripts focused on sexual abuse and the aftermath, which included dealing with depression, suicide, belief and non-belief around disclosure, getting help and speaking out.
In 2006, YOL organized The Walk To Stop Child Sexual Abuse at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto. This was the first-ever walk of this kind in Canada. The event included speakers, performers, and an art/poetry display. The day ended with a 4K walk. The Walk became an annual event at Dundas Square in Toronto. They included speakers, performers, info booths, art making, and an art/poetry display tent for youth.
One in two girls and one in five boys will be sexually assaulted or harassed before the age of eighteen. Yet child sexual abuse remains an invisible issue. The fact of the matter is this: child sexual abuse is, in fact, an epidemic. It is one of the most pervasive forms of violence in North America and around the world.
While YOL no longer holds events, we aim to be a strong presence on the Internet. We hope that one day we will see an end to sexual violence, racism, homophobia, misogyny, and child abuse.
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Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure
it is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?
- Nelson Mandela