A Girl Scouts program designed to educate, empower and assist youth in understanding and dealing with aggression and violence has received an increase in charitable support from Maritz for the third year in a row.

The Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri’s Project Anti-Violence Education (PAVE) program will receive $15,000 from Maritz.

In addition to teaching girls about how to deal with aggression and violence, PAVE also teaches healthy relationship skills and fosters strong and confident leaders.

Girl Scout staff members facilitate the program and it is available free-of-charge to boys and girls in area K-12 schools. New this year, PAVE now includes a youth mentorship model where high school youth will act as agents of change in their schools and teach the PAVE curriculum to elementary school students.

In Missouri, 55 percent of girls are likely to skip school because they feel unsafe. Bullying victimization is a significant social problem and can manifest with symptoms like difficulty concentrating, physical illnesses and even suicide.

“PAVE is a very beneficial program for the students at our middle school,” said Wendy Mickley, an area school counselor. “The presenters are knowledgeable and the topics are timely. It is easy to coordinate the program with representatives from Girl Scouts and integrate the program into our schedule. Students continue to discuss the program long after the facilitators leave.”

PAVE allows education leaders and the community to partner and combat bullying. It addresses the verbal, social and physical challenges associated with bullying and teaches children of all ages ways to prevent and intervene when they see or experience bullying.

PAVE topics include cyber-bullying, anger management, inclusion and diversity, Internet safety, peer pressure, conflict resolution and healthy relationships.

Originally launched as part of a federal grant awarded to Girl Scouts of the USA for violence prevention programming, PAVE was developed locally in 2000. Due to its in-school delivery system, PAVE reaches boys as well as girls in grades K-12 and also includes students enrolled in the Special School District.