UVMers step up, strut at stiletto walk
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 13:10
H.O.P.E. Works, a group dedicated to ending all forms of sexual violence, sponsored Burlington’s first annual Stiletto Walk Sept. 29.
The event started with the reasoning for name of the walk. Cathleen Wilson, executive director at H.O.P.E. Works, shared her thoughts.
“We are making a statement that sexual violence affects a range of people that fill a range of shoes in our society,” Wilson said. “[The Stiletto Walk] was meant to be a fun, unusual kind of fundraiser that would draw a younger crowd and would be awareness-raising.”
Participants in the walk were encouraged to wear whatever shoes they chose as they marched up and down Church Street.While many donned stiletto heels, footwear ranged from Converse sneakers to military boots.
H.O.P.E. Works sponsored the Stiletto Walk out of a response to the dramatic increase in the number of incidents of sexual assault nationwide.
“Last year the agency served 686 survivors of sexual violence, marking a 60 percent increase from the previous year and a 30 percent increase from the average number of survivors served by the organization over the past five years,” Wilson said.
The organization offers services to victims of assault, such as chat lines, support groups and educational initiatives.
Several UVM groups attended the event. Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed fraternity, attended the Stiletto Walk as a team for the service opportunity.
The Black Student Union (BSU) also attended with several members as a community outing. Senior Farah Albritton was excited about BSU’s involvement in the event.
“We’re starting to work into the community and get more involved, so [the Stiletto Walk] is one of our first events of the year,” Albritton said.
Other members of the UVM community also supported the event, including a group of nurses who work in the Fletcher Allen emergency room, all wearing a uniform of animal print scrubs, heels and neon leggings.
Several UVM alumni were also in attendance, including Cathy Tremblay, class of 1985.
“My husband is on the board of H.O.P.E. Works, so we like to participate in events that end violence against women,” she said.
Learn more at www.hopeworksvt.org.