Community ‘walks a mile in her shoes’


Analicia Haynes

Joe McLean, one of the receipents of the 2017 Mark Shaklee Men for Change Award, sports red heels Sunday while he walked at the 4th Annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event hosted by SACIS.

Analicia Haynes, Online Editor

Students and community members, some wearing brightly-colored high heels, “walked a mile in her shoes” Sunday afternoon at Sexual Assault Counseling and Information Service’s fourth annual mile-long walk.
“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” is a way to raise awareness for those affected by sexual violence.
After the walk, awards, including the 2017 Mark Shaklee Men for Change Award, were presented to several participants of the walk who have shown constant involvement in SACIS and the community.
Erin Walters, the executive director of SACIS, said she thinks sexual violence is an issue people do not want to talk about, or they avoid the topic because they feel safer when the words are not in their vocabulary.
“When it’s not something that we have a dialogue about, it feels like it’s separate enough from us that it doesn’t have to impact us,” Walters said.
Walters said this is why SACIS does activities that are visible to the entire Charleston community.
These activities say sexual violence is an issue that “takes all of us to be on board to make a change,” Walters said.
She said the walk is also a way to bring awareness to sexual violence and show that it is not a taboo topic but something real that affects many people.
Those who are affected should be supported in an open way, Walters said.
Alana Reinhardt, a freshman public relations major, said the walk is important to the community and SACIS, even if it just means being visible to the community.
“It’s something you don’t want to think about being pushed toward the back of your mind,” Reinhardt said in regards to sexual violence. “But to have it be at the forefront in a positive space, I think shows that it’s more than just victims and darkness (but that) there’s a brightness to the community.”
Reinhardt said as a member of EIU Fem, one of the sponsors of the walk, she believes in supporting victims of sexual assault.
“I’m here to show as much love and support as I can,” Reinhardt said.
Rantoul resident Ted Green came to Charleston specifically to show his support for victims of sexual violence.
Green, who walked in black and brown wedges, said his daughter was raped while attending school at Western Illinois University.
He said he attends events such as the walk not because he has to but because he wants to.
“It gets the word out,” Green said. “Other people know what we’re doing it.”
While marching with the crowd, holding signs and waving at cars that passed and honked on Lincoln Avenue, several of the male participants wore heels to show their support.
Walters said the walk is intended to encourage men to be involved in SACIS’ mission, which is to put an end to sexual violence and encourage men to take a step to put themselves out there.
“We thought it was appropriate to honor the men in our community and on our campus who are doing just that and not seeking recognition but doing it in a way that is humble and intentional,” Walters said. “This seemed like the perfect opportunity to honor the guys that we know and who advocate for our survivors all the time.”
Charleston resident Joe McLean and Austin Mejdrich, a senior political science major, received the Mark Shaklee Men for Change Award.
Walters said they named the award after Mark Shaklee, who was the husband of Bonnie Buckley, the former executive director of SACIS.
“He worked behind the scenes just like our partners do on a day-to-day basis,” Walters said.

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]