By Sandra Long Weaver
Tribune Editorial Director
NASHVILLE, TN — The YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee will host the first-ever national conference on violence against women and healthy masculinity next month in Nashville.
SHIFT: an AMEND Together Conference will be held on Sept.9 and 10 and features actor, activist and Time Magazine Person of the Year Terry Crews, actor and former NFL star Eddie George, survivor and activist Brenda Tracy, and Alejandra Castillo, CEO of YWCA USA.
The event is designed to confront the crisis of violence against women. AMEND Together, a program of YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee is dedicated to ending violence against women and girls by engaging men and boys to change the culture that supports violence.
The YWCA is the largest provider of services for victims of domestic violence, said Shan Foster, YWCA VP of External Affairs and AMEND Together. “AMEND Together shifts the culture by educating boys and men on behavioral changes that can prevent incidents before they begin.”
Foster is a former NBA player and collegiate standout who has led YWCA’s AMEND Together program since 2015. He has trained thousands of youth, student-athletes, faith-based and business leaders in Nashville and across the country.
Our goal “is stop it before it starts,” said Foster. “A large part of the solution was not at table. We wanted involvement of men and boys. We wanted to be a catalyst for change in Nashville. We found men and boys in Nashville really did embrace idea. They were excited about opportunities to talk about domestic violence in way that had not been done before.”
Foster said the YWCA started providing education, sexual harassment training on campuses and “addressing culture that allows violence to happen in first place. “We worked with the school district. We explored masculinity: What does it mean to be men and boys? We looked at how to be in a healthy relationship. Once we started the work, it really exploded,” he said. “And we started to take it to other YWCAs in the country.”
Foster said the YWCA is changing the narrative. “We are no longer just asking women and girls what they can do to prevent violence against them.” He said the discussion during the conference will include how it fits into the feminist movement and how it fits into the YWCA as whole.
Foster said they expect over 500 people to attend, Registration is free for the first 150 college students. YWCA and Girls Inc. affiliates who register two attendees will receive one free registration for a third attendee, registration is $300. Dinner only with Eddie George on Sept. 9 is $100. You can register at amendtogether.org.