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Pickering woman wins YMCA peace prize (

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By Kristen Calis

PICKERING -- When Nerissa Carino began volunteering in the music industry around 15 years ago, she saw the negativity that's often projected toward women.
"I found a lot of the lyrics were very derogative toward women," she said in an interview squeezed in tightly between studying for exams.
So, the mother of four and University of Toronto student chose to relay a message to try to make violence stop.

The Pickering resident decided to participate in the V-Day initiative, a global movement to raise awareness about and end violence against women and children.

She helped create initiatives at U of T's Scarborough campus to create awareness on the topic and raise funds to support programs to help women and children escape abuse. Between last February and April, she oversaw five events in total, including: the screening of the documentary Until the Violence Stops, which is about V-Day founder Eve Ensler's work; a night of reading, memory, monologue, rant and prayer; an art exhibit and silent auction; a production of the Vagina Monologues, also created by Ms. Ensler; and an open mike showcase event.

All told, Ms. Carino raised $2,500 that fueled programs such as the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre, Springtide Resources, the University of Toronto community, and individuals in and around the Greater Toronto Area.

"It benefitted women here, and also in Africa," she said.

This work earned Ms. Carino a YMCA Durham Peace Medallion for building peace in the community and inspiring others. She was recognized at an awards ceremony held at the YMCA in Durham. This year marked the 25th anniversary of YMCA's Peace Week, a time when the organization promotes activities to help people explore peace from a personal, community and international perspective.

Ms. Carino was shocked when she learned she'd receive the award but felt very honoured.

"I just kind of do what I have to do or what I think needs to be done," she said.
She was also recognized for forming the low-cost Scarborough Mystics volleyball club that runs out of east Scarborough. Originally a competitive team, it naturally progressed into a social environment.

"We would help newcomers to Canada, help them get medical care, educational information, that kind of thing," she said.

Once school settles down, Ms. Carino plans to see how she can help out with the YMCA.