ROCK COUNTY (WIFR) -- YWCA Rock County is thrilled to report a record number of both walkers and donations to its annual "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" domestic violence awareness march.
Two hundred men, women and children joined the march around Janesville's Pontiac Convention Center Friday, September 27. They provided contributions of close to $80,000. "The guys have a great time, they compete on teams and they’re doing a great job recruiting others to get involved," says Jeff Bealles, YWCA Development Director and event organizer. "With the silly nature of men wearing high heels, the event garners much publicity, which has been important both for raising awareness of domestic violence and attracting walkers."
Bealles says some of the event's growth can be attributed to women and girls becoming more involved. While the event started as a men's march to end domestic violence, anyone can participate.
Younger people are becoming more involved, from toddlers to high school students.
"The earlier they can learn about domestic violence, what are healthy relationships and recognizing signs of dating violence – the better," says Bealles. "Walk a Mile provides a fun context to have or begin these discussions with your children."
Rock County has seen its share of high-profile domestic violence fatalities, says Bealles. It draws attention to the issue and brings it closer to home. The only good that comes out of these tragedies is this type of awareness and the hope that future incidents can be avoided. According to financial figures from YWCA Rock County's 2012 annual report, it costs an average $450 per client in the agency's Alternatives to Violence program. That adds up, as the agency served 139 women and 143 children in 2012.
Proceeds also benefit YWCA Rock County's Transitions for Women program, which helps single mothers with a history of domestic violence find sustainable employment and affordable housing for their families. Transitions for Women served 60 households in 2012, with an average $800 cost per client.