Athens Foundation Picks Up Where VAWA Left Off

The Athens Foundation has awarded a $3500 grant to the Sexual Assault Prevention Program (SAPP) at The Appalachian Peace and Justice Network (APJN). This grant comes at a crucial moment for the program. As of last November, SAPP has moved from Tri-County Mental Health to APJN, effectively tripling the size and amount of programming offered by the new agency. This boasts well for APJN, a small, grassroots, community oriented non-profit, but being housed at a smaller agency has increased overhead for SAPP at the same time when the Violence Against Women Act was stalled in Washington. “We got word months ago that VAWA had passed and that we might see some more of the money we are used to getting soon, but still no money has arrived,” says Program Coordinator, Sarah Fick. “We’re still waiting to see what happens with this sequestration, and we’re so thankful that the Athens Foundation can see us through this hard time.” The program was funded at about $8000 less this year by the Ohio Department of Health’s Rape Prevention Education Grant.

The Sexual Assault Prevention Program exists to provide free educational services toward the prevention of gender based violence and an end to rape culture. Fick travels to area Middle and High Schools as well as Southeast Ohio Regional Jail in order to delivery programming on a variety of topics including consent, media representations, healthy relationship skills, and bystander intervention. In addition to supporting her usual work, the Athens Foundation Funds will support new programming taken on by SAPP this year, including Athens Rock Camp for Girls and Hollaback Appalachian Ohio! Planning for this summer’s Rock Camp is well underway. This will be the third annual week long day camp and the first year the camp will be supported by SAPP. As of April 15th, SAPP has also helped to launch a new campaign to end street harassment under the name Hollaback Appalachian Ohio! This program focuses on on-line collective story telling that seeks to change the current narrative that street harassment is just a part of life by telling the counter story that harassment doesn’t have to continue and that all people should be able to feel safe walking down the streets of Athens. Hollaback! will utilize social media and their new blog as well as community forums to send their message loud and clear.  The six person organizing committee is also making plans to run regular trainings on self defense and bystander intervention in the Athens area. “We want to empower our community to create change, to stand up and confront bad behavior safely,” says Fick. “I’m really enjoying my work with Hollaback! It’s something people can really get behind and take part in. One of the hardest things about my work has been that people are very put off by the idea of talking about hard issues like sexual assault, but harassment is something everybody is familiar with. And in order to end rape, we also have to end harassment. We have to train a new generation that doesn’t just follow the status quo toward violent, entitled masculinity and weak, submissive femininity but seeks to grow toward human qualities like mutual respect, interdependence, and autonomy.” To learn more about Hollaback Appalachian Ohio! visit http://www.appalachianohio.ihollaback.org or look them up on facebook or twitter. To learn more about any of the free educational programming check out our About Us page.

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