Danzell James, founder and president of nonprofit Aniya, is raising awareness of intimate partner violence through an inaugural A.N.I.Y.A. (A New Inspiring Young Artist) event campaign that started last week.
The event will feature a series of workshops aimed at informing and engaging young people by providing information and resources related to dating violence, intimate partner violence, safe and healthy relationships led by Every Woman Place’s trained staff.
“The message is simple — love shouldn’t hurt,” said Anje Banks, director of programs for Every Woman’s Place. “Our efforts to end domestic violence must start with breaking the cycle early on and educating youth about healthy dating relationships.”
The campaign is inspired by James’ friend and school colleague, Aniya Monyahe Mack, who was a college student at Western Michigan University when she lost her life to intimate partner violence after an argument with her boyfriend in 2018.
“Aniya was very talented; she was a singer, dancer, choreographer, instrumentalist and beautician,” James said. “Aniya and I began creating music back in 2011, but the songs were never released. Anything that revolved around music Aniya would gain understanding immediately. I will always remember the confidence Aniya brought into every room; her positive energy was contagious.”
In an effort to continue her legacy, Muskegon County high school students in grades 11 and 12 will have the opportunity to audition for a musical talent competition to win a $5,000 scholarship award at the A.N.I.Y.A. event.
Student auditions are scheduled for September and the talent show will be Oct. 8.
“I want Aniya’s time spent on Earth to always be remembered and celebrated, and that’s why I’m organizing the A New Inspiring Young Artist, annually, to give back to the city of Muskegon,” James said. “When we can turn something that hurt our community into something that helps bring us together, then we can keep violence from happening again to someone’s loved one, son or daughter.”
For additional information or to register to audition, visit aniyamack.org.