Men from throughout the community strapped on heels and took to the streets for the ninth annual “Walk A Mile In Her Shoes” event at Misson Plaza in downtown San Luis Obispo Saturday.
The Sexual Assault Recovery and Prevention Center (SARP) partnered with the San Luis Obispo Symphony to organize the one mile walk and Family Fun Fair.
Alan Denz, a participant in the walk, said he was nervous to put on the high heels but decided to go through the pain for a great cause.
“The shoes are a little awkward, but it’s important for more men to step up,” Denz said. “Sexual assault doesn’t just happen to women either, and I feel like this event opens up a dialogue for people to talk more freely about it.”
An estimated 200 people walked the mile, while 300 to 400 visitors came to visit the vendors, said SARP Executive Director Kristy McCray.
The main goal of “Walk a Mile In Her Shoes” is to raise awareness of sexual assault in the community, she said.
“Sexual assault can happen to anyone at anytime, even in a safe place like (San Luis Obispo), and we just want to promote the programs at SARP,” McCray said. “This year was the first time we have partnered with the symphony, so we are also raising awareness for their organization as well.”
David Roberts, an electrical engineering senior who represented the San Luis Obispo Symphony at the event, said the symphony was there to support the cause of raising awareness for sexual assault as well as to promote music to the community.
“We are trying to promote music education in schools,” Roberts said. “With all of the budget cuts music is the first thing to go, but we have this idea to get kids interested in instruments and music to keep the programs alive.”
At the event, there were various booths, such as the symphony’s booth where children were allowed to check out different instruments, from trumpets to violins.
Another station was the nail polish self-service center, where male and female participants had their toes painted for the mile-long walk in high heels.
Young adults from The Bakari Project, which aims to help troubled youth, volunteered at the station.
Brant Hutchinson is a member of the program and said he was happy to help out for a good cause.
“Sexual assault is a big deal,” Hutchinson said. “I think it’s great that we can be out here to better the community.”
Jeff Leazer, also in the program, said he wanted to promote the cause.
“I’m here with The Bakari Project, which is all about changing the lives of troubled youth and keeping people out of trouble so this seems like a good cause for us because we’re also out here trying to change lives for others,” Leazer said.
The event is a way for people who have been a victim of sexual assault to become more aware of the resources available to them.
Chris Hamilton, a theatre arts sophomore, said this aspect of the event is what struck him as most important.
“I tried my best to get my friends to come along, but I couldn’t get them to come,” Hamilton said. “I think they must be afraid of the high heels, but I absolutely think that more men should come out because I really believe in this cause.”
He said the attitude on rape in America can be awful sometimes, even in 2011, and the event is a way to examine attitudes about sexual assault and possibly form new opinions.
“Sexual assault does not get enough attention, so if it takes men wearing high heels to do it, I’m happy to help out,” Hamilton said.
McCray encourages anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault to utilize the SARP 24-hour hotline.