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My experience in an IMPACT self-defense class

When Meg Stone, Executive Director of IMPACT Boston, called for volunteers to take a mock IMPACT class taught by instructors from the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t miss. IMPACT Boston, a Triangle, Inc. program, is an abuse prevention and safety training organization that gives people the skills to respond appropriately to threatening situations. IMPACT offers self-defense classes and customized workshops that touch on abuse prevention, assertive communication, and conflict de-escalation to a wide variety of communities.

Inspired by taking IMPACT classes across North Dakota, two Chippewa women, Shanda Poitras and Sara Davis, met Meg Stone at a conference and saw the value in bringing the information back to the Turtle Mountain Reservation, where both had grown up. The unfortunate reality is that empowerment self-defense training is greatly needed on the Turtle Mountain Reservation. Native women on some reservations are ten times more likely to go missing or be murdered than the national average, and 56% of Native women have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime. These exponentially high numbers underline the dire need for programs such as IMPACT, which addresses a wide range of potentially dangerous situations – ranging from racist hate speech to intimate partner sexual assault and street harassment.

Women and men from the Turtle Mountain Reservation traveled to Boston in December and January for their week-long training, where they learned how to teach the 3-hour workshop. The instructors returned for further training this June, where they held the mock classes that were open to Triangle employees and any outside participants. The class that I took, led by Sara Davis and suited instructor James Decoteau, included valuable tools for verbally responding to harassment and threats in addition to learning how to physically react in situations of danger. The instructors demonstrated different scenarios that are highly relevant to the population they’ll be teaching on the reservation, but also universal for women across the country. They led us through step-by-step how to use verbal cues to deter a dangerous situation, then how to incapacitate a perpetrator if the scenario escalates to physical violence. We practiced the steps repeatedly and the class culminated with reacting to a lifelike situation with the suited instructor. The instructors were full of encouragement and support, but still ensured that everyone left the class knowing how to use the skills in daily life. I found that, despite the rush of adrenaline I felt during the practice scenarios, I could successfully use the tactics that they had taught me without freezing.

After just 3 hours, I felt like I had learned life-long skills that made me feel empowered and confident in my safety. I can tell that the instructors from the Turtle Mountain Reservation are going to make a huge difference in the lives of the women they are teaching!

You can read an interview with Shanda Poitras, one of the women instrumental in bringing IMPACT training to the Turtle Mountain Reservation, in an IMPACT blog post here

IMPACT staff pose with the instructors from the Turtle Mountain Reservation.
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Thank you to our Celebration’s Presenting Sponsor!

In honor of last week’s 48th Annual Awards Ceremony and Fundraiser, we’re highlighting our Presenting Sponsor and longtime collaborator, The TJX Companies, Inc.

TJX has gone above and beyond in their support of Triangle over the years. Not only is the company a top sponsor at our two major fundraising events – the Annual Celebration and the Golf Tournament – but they also provide an inclusive workplace for Triangle program participants.

As Triangle continues to embrace a community-based model, TJX has welcomed job-seekers to their various store locations across Massachusetts, including T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods. Between Triangle’s locations in Malden and Randolph, there have been more than 10 program participants placed in jobs at TJX stores in the past three years. Program participants have worked in roles that include maintenance and light cleaning, and they have been well supported by staff at the different stores.

Having a strong relationship with a global company with local roots is an incredibly valuable resource for the Triangle community. TJX’s support has made a significant impact in the lives of the people that we serve. From sponsoring the Annual Celebration, to bringing enthusiastic foursomes out to the Golf Tournament, to providing professional development opportunities for our program participants, TJX is a cherished partner to Triangle, Inc.

We are so grateful for their role as a Presenting Sponsor at Celebrate: Triangle, Inc.’s 48th Annual Awards Ceremony and Fundraiser! For more photos and details of the event, click here.

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Triangle Inc. is a registered Non-Profit 501(c)(3) organization.