Proms and Punch-a-Thons: The Center for Anti-Violence Education Empowers People With Strength

By Carey Purcell
27 Jun 2014

Tracy Hobson
Tracy Hobson

Tracy Hobson, executive director of the Center for Anti-Violence Education, talks with Playbill.com about the organization's four decades of work. 

*

White linen suits with red Converse sneakers and black tuxedo tops paired with leopard-print pants might not be considered traditional prom attire by some, but at the Center for Anti-Violence Education in Brooklyn, NY, they were just some of the many stylish ensembles seen at their spring dance.

The Prom You Always Wanted, offered by CAE April 27, provided its community with the opportunity to experience the traditional high school dance in a new — and more positive — way.



"One of our board members came up with the idea, and it was really that so many people, especially in the LGBT community, felt like their prom wasn't what they wanted it be," executive director Tracy Hobson told Playbill.com. "They couldn't bring who they wanted to go with, or the pre-described notions of what you're supposed to wear or not wear, and they didn't really fit in the way they wanted to. So this idea was: This is the prom you want it to be. Bring who you want to bring. Be with you want to be with. And have a really good time."

The Prom You Always Wanted is just one of the events and programs offered by the Center for Anti-Violence Education, which develops and implements violence prevention programs for both individuals and organizations. CAE's programs focus on women, girls and LGBTQ communities, with a special sensitivity to the needs of survivors. Participants develop skills and strength to heal from, prevent and counter violence in an effort to improve the world. 

Founded in the 1970s, the CAE began when two women met at an anti-war rally and decided to form a karate school with two intentions: physically empower women to feel stronger in their bodies, which would then lead them to feel more confident using their voices to stand up for themselves and others, and using that work to end violence.

"The two twin pillars are really building personal strength and then using that work to try to end violence in the world," Hobson said. "The physical is what helps be the catalyst for people to stand up for themselves and do the things they often can't do — go back to school, apply for that job or do activism in the world. That's ingrained in everything that we do and the philosophy of everything that we do."

 Continued...