Personal Safety and Wellness teaches students ‘they are worth fighting for’


Katie Anthony, Print News Editor

Personal Safety and Wellness is one of DGS’ newest additions to the PE options for junior and senior students. The course is based around physical and mental training in order to learn how to defend oneself and, as instructor Julie Jur puts it, teaches students that ‘“they are worth fighting for.”

Standing out amid the sports-based or training centered classes the majority of upperclassmen take, self defense has made a lasting impression on the students who have taken it.

Senior Jessica Prete enrolled in the class after her counselor listed it as one of her options.

“It was new and different than the other gym classes I had heard about. It sounded like it would be something that I would be able to actually use in the real world,” Prete said.

Jur and PE teacher Lindsay Degiulio each run a total of five sections of the course. Degiulio took initiative to add the course to upperclassmen options after observing it at Oak Park and River Forest High School, where the class is required for all freshmen.

“I was looking for new activities that I thought were interesting and worthwhile putting into the curriculum, and when I heard about this course being taught at OPRF I wanted to learn more about it,” Degiulio said.

Jur was looking for a change too, which led her to being the second instructor at DGS to teach the class.

“I was looking for a change, period. I felt like I had been teaching the same classes for a while and I was looking for something new,” Jur said.

Amid her options for a change, Personal Safety and Wellness stood out in the same way it stands out for many of the students who chose to take it. The class had real life applications and personal connections.

“I have had several personal tragedies in my life where I felt that if the people impacted had been prepared, the outcome might have been different,” Jur said.

School resource officers Rau and Chapin speak to Jur’s testament that knowing personal safety skills can help in an emergency situation.

“Simple moves can sometimes save your life; sometimes it’s just enough to alert other people to come and help you,” Chapin said.

Rau believes that the mental lessons from personal safety classes are important. Two of his daughters are sophomores at DGS and he has enrolled them in personal safety classes in the past and would encourage them to take them once they are upperclassmen.

“It empowers girls to go, ‘I have had this training, I know what to do,’” Rau said.

Jur also empathized the education aspect of the course.

“[I hope they take away] that attacks happen everywhere at any time of day and usually by people you know. Most people picture the scary guy in the alleyway when you’re out late at night and stats show that is just not the case,” Jur said.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women will be sexually assaulted in college and one in sixteen men. In eight out of ten cases of these crimes, the victims knew the attacker.

Senior Celestyna Jarzabek recognized that some of the conversations and skills are tough but worth doing.

“We work through lessons on sexual assault and consent and stuff like that.  You need to be mentally and physically ready… even if it’s uncomfortable, it’s worth doing,” Jarzabek said.

Degiulio hopes that eventually Personal Safety and Wellness will be a district required course.

“Ultimately, we would like for every student to take it whether it is something we put in the freshman curriculum or if it’s something where we make it a part of the junior/senior requirement,” Degiulio said.

While the course is only an option for upperclassmen, Jur hopes she will be able to help one student at a time.

“Although it’s an emotional thing to teach, if me even helping one person be prepared for that one attack in the future then it’s worth it,” Jur said.