Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Working with youth to reduce violence through worship is at the heart of UnifiedErie’s new religiosity campaign that launches this week. Details of the “Take Me To Worship” campaign were announced Tuesday morning at a press conference in Frontier Park hosted by the religiosity team of UnifiedErie, an organization whose aim is to reduce crime and violence in Erie County.
Take Me to Worship is a campaign to educate the Erie community on the effects that one hour of worship per week can have on a child’s education, violent tendencies, risk of suicide, parental communication, moral choices and other areas of life. Take Me to Worship is affiliated with the prevention component of UnifiedErie, which is led by the Mercyhurst Civic Institute.
“Social science research has identified that youth who participate in organized religion for one or more hours per week are less likely to participate in problem behaviors, including violence, teen pregnancy, delinquency, substance abuse and depression,” said Andrea Bierer, Community Action Plan coordinator for UnifiedErie, who spoke at Tuesday’s press conference. Gary Lee, director of administration for the Erie County Executive’s Office, and Erie Police Chief Randy Bowers also spoke.
According to results of the 2013 Pennsylvania Youth Survey conducted by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, Erie County youth scored significantly lower on religiosity than the national average, which prompted the first Religiosity Summit in June 2013 to share social science data with religious leaders. Out of that gathering grew strategies to promote youth involvement in local religious organizations and the Take Me to Worship campaign.
Operating with $20,000 in private donations, the campaign runs from Friday through Aug. 30 and consists of TV, radio and print media ads that share the compelling data about better outcomes for youth who participate in organized religion regularly. Houses of worship are also being provided with tools to encourage youth programming.
“The hope is that this campaign can challenge more people in Erie County to make religion a priority for their families,” Bierer said.
Meanwhile, Bierer thanked the many volunteers who have worked to bring the campaign to fruition, including Mercyhurst University colleagues Chris Norris and Jeremy Hewitt of the marketing department along with former marketing director Meghan Waskiewicz. They assisted with web content, video and photography, and marketing guidance.