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Joe Ehrmann to speak out on building better lives

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CANTON — Former professional football player Joe Ehrmann is speaking with north country coaches, students and community members this week on how to develop a game plan for a good life both on and off the field.

Leadership, coaching, team-building and mentoring will be highlights of presentations by Mr. Ehrmann, who played at Syracuse University before he became a Baltimore Colt.

St. Lawrence Valley Renewal House Executive Director Ilene J. Burke said she hopes people are inspired by the words of Mr. Ehrmann to reach out to those who have been victimized, and teach them they can overcome obstacles.

“A lot of what we’re seeing is bullying,” Ms. Burke said, referring to issues brought to the Renewal House. “That’s one of the issues we’ve been asked to speak about at schools. It goes hand in hand with domestic violence. Sometimes the bully moves into a dating relationship or marriage and may use those tactics to gain power or control over” a partner.

According to a November 2011 blog post to Mr. Ehrmann’s Coaching for America website, the ex-athlete is a survivor of child sexual abuse, something he carried in shame that “silenced me for almost 50 years” before it was published in the summer of 2011 in his book, “InSideOut Coaching.”

Ms. Burke said she hopes Mr. Ehrmann’s presentation will affect both athletes and non-athletes. “It’s not just about the sport,” she said. “It’s (about) developing our youth into good people.”

Attempts to reach Mr. Ehrmann were unsuccessful.

According to his website, his mission is to “inform, inspire and initiate individual, communal and societal change that will empower men and women to be their very best — personally, professionally and relationally.”

That message will be conveyed in closed-school presentations throughout Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. A closed presentation to north country coaches and athletic directors was to take place Sunday at SUNY Canton’s Roos House Convocation, Athletic and Recreation Center, off Cornell Drive.

From 7 to 8:30 p.m. today at Roos House, Renewal House, Catholic Charities and the United Way of Northern New York will host a free community-education night, and the public is invited to listen to Mr. Ehrmann’s message. Another community presentation will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Sturtz Theater of Jefferson Community College, 1220 Coffeen St., Watertown.

A book signing will follow both community presentations. Many other organizations and businesses support the presentations.

Ms. Burke said Mr. Ehrmann’s focus on healthy relationships could be a catalyst of change needed in the north country. In 2013 alone, Renewal House aided 983 victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes. Ms. Burke said 66 people stayed in the agency’s nine-bed safe dwelling, with an average stay of 13 days.

“It’s not that it’s happening more,” she said. “I think people are coming forward for help more. A lot of people don’t want to feel they’re a victim. It’s someone manipulating you over time; you don’t see it at first.”

Mr. Ehrmann’s presentations will take place during National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which runs through Saturday. Ms. Burke said the agency “celebrates securing rights and resources crime victims need to rebuild their lives.”

For more information on Mr. Ehrmann, visit www.coachforamerica.com.

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