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Walk a Mile in Her Shoes to raise awareness for domestic abuse

By Nikayla Goddard, January 30 2020—

What does it take to walk a mile in her shoes? All it takes is a desire to raise awareness and funds to combat domestic violence at this Saturday’s third annual YW Walk a Mile in Her Shoes on Campus event.

Most people are familiar with the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes fundraisers, but the University of Calgary was the first to host a walk on a post-secondary campus. The general format of the fundraiser consists of participants walking a mile in high heels indoors to signify the struggles women take in fleeing domestic abuse, show solidarity with them and serve as a fun and informative event to raise awareness. This campus event takes place on Feb. 1 from 10 a.m.–2 p.m at the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking in the MacEwan Student Centre, and is hosted by the University of Calgary’s Students Against Domestic Abuse Association (SADAA).

SADAA is a student-initiated club that strives to raise public awareness about domestic abuse, reduce the stigma around the issue and offer support to survivors of domestic abuse. Kat Heger, co-president for SADAA, explained that their association primarily aims to raise awareness and funds for women and children escaping domestic abuse and works with the YW here in Calgary, a local women’s emergency shelter.

Heger got involved with SADAA following a recommendation from a friend. She cited experiencing her best friend going through abuse in middle school as a reason she decided to join, wanting to spread awareness for domestic abuse. 

“We want to raise awareness around domestic abuse, especially in our community,” Heger explained. “Because it’s very easy to feel like domestic abuse is something that happens elsewhere, that it doesn’t happen in my city […] but in reality it does. It happens to people of all ethnicities, all cultural backgrounds, all socio-economic areas — literally everywhere.”

The event consists of more than just the walk — there are also two keynotes to take place before the walk, by survivors of domestic abuse. The speakers intend to tell their stories and explain what it was like to live and escape domestic abuse. There will also be PAL puppies present, plenty of resources on domestic abuse and sexual health that can be accessed in Calgary, a caricature artist, henna artist and photo booth. 

“We really do all that we can to make this a family-friendly and encouraging environment to create a safe and comfortable space to talk about this really difficult issue,” Heger said. “In the past year, domestic violence cases have risen 40 per cent already, and it’s been an upward trend over the past five years as well. It’s absolutely shocking, and it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.

“We need to continue to not only raise awareness, but also raise funds and try to support these women and children escaping domestic abuse in our city.” 

The event is open to students, faculty, and staff members, and external community members of all genders and ages. All proceeds from the event will be donated to YWCA Calgary to provide support for survivors of domestic abuse. For more details, or to sign up for the event, check out their website

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