Herkimer County Community College students, teachers and staff participated with activists around the world on Thursday by dancing, singing and celebrating One Billion Rising, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls.
The first-ever worldwide event was a celebration of conscious awareness in more 200 countries, said Jane Verri, associate professor of social science. “The idea is to have one billion rising at the same time and making a difference in the lives of others,” she said.
Several student clubs and off-campus agencies joined together to take part in the event.
Amnesty International conducted a write-a-thon in which students signed petitions and wrote letters to end violence against women. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day the club also wrote Valentine’s Day cards to 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai, who was shot for partaking in human rights activism by Taliban gunmen on Oct. 9, 2012. Although students may not have been active members within the club, everyone in attendance was encouraged to take part and write a letter to save a life.
Senior social science student Cheonne Brace said she thought writing letters for Amnesty International and participating in One Billion Rising was a great way to reach out to people and empower women. “Through the event students are becoming more aware of women’s rights and it’s a great way for people to help the cause,” she said.
“I think the event was very informative and it helped to show the strength of women,” said Sabrina Davis, a senior criminal justice student. “It’s tough to understand how males and females should be perceived due to mixed messages of our generation and this event really helps students focus in on what is right.”
YWCA of the Mohawk Valley was on site to provide awareness of sexual violence against women. Community educator Joanne Gueverra said the YWCA is open to the public and welcomes anyone who needs help. During closed office hours those in need of assistance are encouraged to call the YWCA 24-hour sexual violence hotline at 866-4120.
Gueverra added the YWCA also offers HCCC students the chance to meet with YWCA counselors at the HCCC Counseling Center the first and third Tuesday of the month from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Representatives of the Catholic Charities of Herkimer County Domestic Violence Program attended the event to take part in the movement to end violence against women.
Program director Jackie Ward said, “It’s important for people to rise up and participate in events such as this — to take a stand and stop violence within homes and communities.”
The domestic violence program also offers crisis and supportive services to victims of domestic violence and their children by calling a 24-hour hotline at 866-0458.
Christine Shahin, owner of Faces of Astarte Organic Beauty Salon & Boutique in Little Falls, said it’s important to use natural products when it comes to one’s own body.
Page 2 of 2 - “Products with chemicals are toxic and it could be considered an act of violence by using them, because 60 percent of what we put on goes directly into our bloodstream in 20 minutes causing harm to your own body,” she said. “There are a lot of alternatives to today’s cosmetic procedures such as a non-syrgical face lift, mineral wraps, henna body wrap and even henna hair dye.”