Photo courtesy of SafeHouse.
0812 Walk like a womanMen walk in red high heels to raise awareness about violent crimes against women in last year’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, held by SafeHouse of Shelby County.
Steven Janorschke’s first experience wearing heels was painful. Two days later, his feet were so blistered that he had to wear flip-flops to an important business meeting. Still, Janoschke plans to sport his heels again at the second annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.
“Last year, this year and next year, I’ll be there,” Janorschke said. “Every day in the U.S., four women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. I’ll walk until that number is zero.”
SafeHouse of Shelby County will host the international men’s march to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence on August 18 at Veterans Park on Valleydale Road. The event encourages its male participants to take a stand against violent crimes towards women by wearing a pair of high heels as they walk one mile together.
Frank Baird, a counselor in California, started the walk in 2001 in his community. Since then, the walk has spread to cities and countries all over the world.
Last year, 125 men from Shelby County and the metro Birmingham community walked around Veterans Park in high heels with signs saying, “I’m man enough to walk in her shoes” and “No means no.”
“It highlights a huge problem in our community and also honors heroes who have survived the experience,” said state Senator Cam Ward, who participated in last year’s walk.
Although the walk has a serious purpose, the men have fun taking a walk in women’s shoes, and women have fun watching them try.
Along with the walk, participants and spectators will hear testimonies from victims of violence or abuse.
“We have a survivor who will tell her story of how she got out of an abusive relationship and how her life has changed,” said Jennifer Chappell, director of development at SafeHouse. The domestic violence and sexual assault center provides emergency shelter and comprehensive support services to victims.
Before the walk begins, women will give the men tips on how to walk in heels. Four-inch red pumps will be fitted to participants at the beginning of the day while supplies last. Walkers are also welcome to bring their own heels at any height that they wish.
The event will also feature music by the Thomas Henry Band, several food and merchandise vendors, and other activities. Scott Fitzgerald from 105.5 WERC will emcee. Special prizes will be awarded for the person who crosses the finish line first, the most spirited, and the “Red Shoe” award, which is awarded to the person who raises the most donations.
Verizon Wireless will hold a HopeLine Drive at the event for people to donate unwanted cell phones. These will be refurbished and given to victims and survivors of domestic violence.
To register, participants may print out a registration form from www.walkamilesafehouse.org and mail to SafeHouse of Shelby County, Attn: Jennifer Chappell, PO Box 275, Pelham, Ala. 35124.
Day-of registration and shoe-fitting will be from 8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. The walk will begin at 9 a.m.
For more information on the walk or to register or donate, visit www.walkamilesafehouse.org.