Ryan Chartrand

The Sexual Assault Recovery and Prevention (SARP) Center of San Luis Obispo County was awarded a $2700 grant from the San Luis Obispo County Community Foundation June 1.

Amber Kennedy, fund development coordinator for the SARP Center, said that the grant will support the prevention education department, specifically with youth in San Luis Obispo.

The SARP Center provides several services to the community.

The first is the education department, which sends out male and female educators to do general awareness presentations in the community that define sexual assault, discuss myths and provide prevention information and resources. The department also offers self-defense training for women and presentations on healthy relationships and social pressures for men.

The second service is crisis management.

“Our 24-hour crisis services can benefit Cal Poly students,” Kennedy said. “Any student that is a victim of sexual assault, has been a victim, or is the significant other of a victim can call the crisis line at any time for support, accompaniment and advocacy.”

The SARP Center also plays a role on the Cal Poly campus.

“We have a close working relationship with Cal Poly’s Sexual Assault-Free Environment Resource (SAFER) program,” Kennedy said. “We act as a support to the program which relates more to prevention.”

One Cal Poly faculty member has been closely involved with the SARP center ever since July 2004. Kinesiology professor Camille O’Bryant is currently secretary of the board of directors, and she also serves on the executive committee that collaborates with the executive director to evaluate specific goals and objectives of the SARP Center.

O’Bryant joined the board of directors because she felt that the programs and services offered by the SARP Center were important to the county, and specifically for Cal Poly students.

“Sometimes I think that students would rather talk to someone off-campus about their experience with sexual assault or rape, so it is good that there is somewhere like the SARP Center where they can go for those types of services,” she said.

Her passion for the SARP Center’s goals stemmed from her realization that rape and sexual assault are topics that very few people feel comfortable addressing for a variety of reasons.

“Maybe, as survivors, it is still too difficult to advocate for change,” O’Bryant said. “I think there are still too many myths and misconceptions about rape and sexual assault that disempower women and men to be agents of change or advocates for programs that can educate young people about how they can and should understand that there are people who are willing, interested in and able to help them if they are survivors.”

The SARP Center also provides volunteer opportunities for students who have an interest in non-profit work, and puts on events in which the students can participate. “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” is an annual event that takes place in April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The awareness and fundraising campaign invites men to walk one mile wearing women’s shoes in order to promote conversations about sexual assault and violence.

For more information, contact the SARP Center at 545-8888 or go to www.sarpcenter.org.

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