WALK A MILE IN HER SHOES ENDS

The Tribune (SLO) - - Front Page - BY GABBY FER­REIRA Gabby Fer­reira: 805-781-7858, @It­s_Gab­byF

The event aimed to show sol­i­dar­ity with vic­tims of gen­der-based vi­o­lence; or­ga­niz­ers want some­thing more in­clu­sive.

RISE is end­ing its an­nual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event af­ter 16 years, the non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion an­nounced Thurs­day.

The event, which took place ev­ery April in recog­ni­tion of Sex­ual As­sault Aware­ness Month, en­cour­aged par­tic­i­pants to wear high heels and walk a mile in sol­i­dar­ity with those who have ex­pe­ri­enced gen­der-based vi­o­lence.

RISE lead­ers said in a re­lease that they de­cided to re­tire the na­tional event based on “ex­ten­sive dis­cus­sion, mar­ket re­search and feed­back from RISE staff, board mem­bers and com­mu­nity sup­port­ers alike” as well as de­clin­ing rev­enue and at­ten­dance.

“RISE’s goal is to cre­ate an in­clu­sive, em­pow­er­ing event that speaks to the ex­pe­ri­ences of all sur­vivors, and we weren’t meet­ing that goal with Walk a Mile,” Jen­nifer Adams, RISE’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, said in the re- lease. “We hope to carry for­ward the progress, mo­men­tum and sup­port es­tab­lished by Walk a Mile, while con­tin­u­ing to em­power al­lies, raise aware­ness and bring to­gether SLO County to sup­port sur­vivors.”

So­phie Marsh, RISE’s out­reach and events man­ager, told The Tri­bune in a phone in­ter­view that over the years, the or­ga­ni­za­tion had re­ceived feed­back and push­back over some of the event’s mes­sag­ing.

“More specif­i­cally, ideas that are non-in­clu­sive to the LGBT com­mu­nity be­cause of the way the event is framed. It’s fo­cus­ing on fe­male sur­vivors to the detri­ment of less-vis­i­ble groups,” Marsh said. She added that the event “en­forces the gen­der bi­nary and pa­tri­ar­chal sys­tems of power.”

Marsh said RISE wants to be more in­clu­sive of all peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing sex­ual as­sault and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

“We want to make sure that they feel wel­come and in­cluded in all of our ser­vices,” Marsh said.

The event’s peak was in 2017, with about 600 peo­ple show­ing up to Walk a Mile in Her Shoes marches in Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Ar­royo Grande and Cuesta Col­lege.

How­ever, at­ten­dance had been steadily de­clin­ing be­fore 2017, and in 2018, both rev­enue and at­ten­dance de­clined by about 48 per­cent, Marsh said.

This year for Sex­ual As­sault Aware­ness Month, RISE will host RISE Up & Rock, a fam­ily-friendly ben­e­fit con­cert at SLO Brew Rock on April 27, ac­cord­ing to the re­lease.

LAURA DICKINSON ldick­in­[email protected]­bune­news.com

RISE’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event is end­ing, the non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion an­nounced Thurs­day.

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