Framed in Jennifer Ann Crecente’s bedroom is a timeline of significant events — those past and those made of dreams, written in a rainbow of crayons. From a trip to Disney, her first boyfriend, volunteering, graduation, husband, kids, retirement to the last line that reads “2099 – Oldest person alive.”
Just a few months shy of her high school graduation, the honor student was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend, on Feb. 15, 2006. He is serving a 35-year sentence for her murder.
“Jennifer and Justin (Crabbe) dated for about two and a half years, on and off. It was a troubled relationship. It could be fairly volatile,” her mother, Elizabeth Crecente, told KXAN-TV NBC, Austin, TX, in 2016.
Jennifer’s father had a number of conversations with his daughter. Don’t smoke, the dangers of drinking, the need for protection. What wasn’t on his radar was teen dating violence.
It was not long after the loss of his only child that Drew Crecente founded Jennifer Ann’s Group, obtained his law degree and educated himself on the webs of abuse. The prevention of teen dating violence is the nonprofit’s mission.
“I had no idea that, by the time students graduate from college, 44% of them will have been in an abusive relationship,” he said.
The group was created in part to honor his daughter’s memory and “in some sense, be a brand that people could identify with … so that others can possibly recognize other people in their life like Jennifer,” the Brookhaven resident said.
Instead of spouting statistics, the advocate went to where the kids were. The nonprofit’s program is based on an approach of “gaming against violence” to engage, educate and influence behavior through pro-social video games. The founder wants no barriers and offers all the games at no cost.
“I think it is important to think of video games like many things as a tool, like a hammer. You can build a house or you can demolish a house with a hammer,” he said.
Taking a proactive approach he offers resources to schools and parents to address issues and educate kids at an early age.
“One of the things we are hoping that is attractive to schools and parents is that they don’t have to be experts about these things because we are trying to make sure all the expertise is in there.”
For the video games, visit https://jag.itch.io/. For more information, visit https://jenniferann.org/