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Walking against sexual violence

Published: Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 3:03 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 3:28 p.m. CDT

PRINCETON — Two Princeton-based organizations are calling on men and boys throughout the area to take a stand, or rather to take a walk, to raise awareness of the problem of domestic violence and sexual assault against women and girls.

Princeton Tourism and the Freedom House domestic violence shelter have joined forces to co-sponsor a “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, Men’s March Against Violence” event on May 18 in Princeton. Registration is now open online at www.firstgiving.com by searching for Freedom House Illinois and choosing the “events” link.

In announcing the May 18 event, Princeton Tourism Director Joni Hunt talked about the importance of the upcoming walk.

“There is such a need for awareness against gender-based violence,” Hunt said. “Freedom House has been a part of Bureau County for 30 years and has been housed in Princeton for the majority of those years. Princeton officials are excited to honor the work of Freedom House by helping to organize this event.”

In explaining the upcoming event, Freedom House Development Coordinator Michelle Spears said “Walk a Mile In Her Shoes” is a walk that is done by men in women’s shoes as a fun way to shed light on a serious problem. Men are an important part of the work that an agency like Freedom House does, she said.

“With a one-in-six chance that a girl or woman will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime and a one-in-four chance that she will be the victim of domestic violence, men everywhere are affected by this,” Spears said. “These numbers represent daughters, sisters, mothers, friends and co-workers. ‘Walk a Mile In Her Shoes’ is a memorable way for good men to stand up and say this is not acceptable.”

Though the May 18 walk will be held in Princeton, the walk is open to families and individuals throughout the county and beyond. Spears said. Freedom House serves not just Bureau County, but also Putnam, Henry, Marshall and Stark counties as well, she said.

Hunt encouraged not just men and boys to participate in the walk, but for entire families to come out for the event.

“Seeing a dad or a big brother taking such a stand against women’s violence will certainly make a lifelong impact on a child,” Hunt said. “This walk is also a great way for students to come together and take part in an important community concern. Our hope is to see the beautiful streets of Princeton filled with families and friends walking together to raise awareness.”

Again, walkers can register individually or as a team, Spears said. Registration is free, and walkers will then be invited to send an electronic request for sponsors. The first 100 walkers who raise $100 will receive an official walk T-shirt. All registered walkers will be entered into drawings for prizes. Top sponsors will be recognized in the after-walk rally on the day of the event. Prizes will also be given for the most “outrageous” shoes.

By announcing registration in February, hopefully a lot of people will set aside the May 18 date for walking in or supporting the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” Spears said.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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