On March, April 1 at 2:00 p.m., St. Mary’s First Responders teamed up with Walden Sierra, a not-for profit behavioral health organization in Southern Maryland, to host the 2nd annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes at the College. The event, which was free and open to students and community members, was hosted at the track beside the Michael P. O’Brien Athletic and Recreation Center (MPOARC) and featured music, games, and art. According to Walden Sierra’s website, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is “a community march to prevent and end gender violence and sexual assault.” Men of all ages are asked to do laps in women’s shoes, provided by the event, and women are invited to support the men and participate in specialized laps, like the “Honoring Survivors” and the “In Another’s Shoes” laps.
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is an international event started in 2001 and has raised millions of dollars for local rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters, and other sexualized violence education, prevention, and remediation programs. The mission of the event is “to create a unique and powerful public experience that educates individuals and communities about the causes of sexualized violence, provides them with prevention and remediation strategies and empowers them to further develop and implement these knowledges and skills interpersonally and politically,” according to the walk’s website. The event at St. Mary’s achieved this goal, according to Laura Webb, the Community Engagement Manager from Walden Sierra. “I think it went really well. There was a diverse group of walkers a mix of students and community members, which is what we want to see for future years”
The male participants who came out were given a pair of shoes to strut their stuff on the track. Sam Greenberg, a freshman and first-time walker, said, “It was really cool event with a great turnout. People from all walks of life and professions came out and we learned a lot.” The female participants who came to offer their support for the men and victims of rape and sexual assault, although they weren’t wearing bright red, 3-inch heels, were moved by the event as well. “I liked [the event] a lot,” said freshmen Emma Taylor. “It brings awareness to this issue that’s really quite prevalent on campus and makes it accessible by taking something humorous, like men walking in heels, to address a serious issue.”
Webb was pleased with the event’s ability to “find ways to meaningfully include women” in a male-centric march. She also commented on the St. Mary’s students in attendance. “I’m always amazed at the number of First-Responders and Peer-Educators I see at these events.” Walden Sierra, according to their website, aims to “contribute to the well being of the Southern Maryland community by providing a comprehensive array of crisis, behavioral health, trauma, and recovery service” and they provide a 24-hour Crisis Hotline for students and community members.