With Whistler’s fourth edition of the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event quickly approaching, officials at the Howe Sound Women’s Centre (HSWC) are hopeful that local men will be willing to strap on stilettos to bring awareness to a worthy cause.
The annual event is part of an international movement that looks to open the discussion about sexual assault and gender violence by having men literally walk a mile in women’s shoes by donning a specially-fitted pair of high heels. The Whistler walk is scheduled for Sept. 15, when the men signed up will attempt to heel-toe their way down the Village Stroll.
“We’re looking to grow awareness within the Sea to Sky community around the issue of violence against women, and looking to help put preventative measures in place and help women and children who are facing those issues,” said Megan Reynolds, resource development manager for the HSWC.
“It’s a very difficult subject to discuss, so the hope is that through a fun and somewhat entertaining environment we are empowering men to stand up for women and children in their lives that they care for.”
The men participating also go out to collect pledges in support of their walk, which goes directly toward programs and resources immediately addressing violence against women at the HSWC-run Whistler Women’s Centre, plus the Drop-In Centre and Pearls Place Transition Centre in Squamish.
A few dozen participants have come out to take part in the event each of the past three years, but Reynolds said organizers are hopeful to see that number grow for 2013, so the push for registration is on.
“We’re hoping to reach a minimum of 50 people in the event, but we would be really pleased if we had 100 participants,” said Reynolds.
While anyone in the community is welcome to participate, organizers are once again approaching high-profile community members to put on a pair of heels. In the past, representatives from Whistler council, the Whistler RCMP and the business sector have participated in the walk.
As well, the fundraising goal has gone up for this year. While the 2012 event raised approximately $3,000 for the HSWC facilities and programs, Reynolds said organizers are hopeful to crack $10,000 this year.
The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes initiative started in 2001 and has grown over the years to raise millions of dollars for rape crisis centres and domestic violence shelters across Canada and the U.S. That’s allowed for specially-fitted men’s high heels to be produced and sent out to Walk a Mile events around North America, so men thinking of participating can be assured they will fit perfectly into a pair of pumps.
“We have close to 100 pairs in a variety of sizes, so men don’t have to come with their own shoes, we will provide them,” said Reynolds, who encouraged participants to register in advance to ensure their size is available.
Those looking to register ahead of time can do so by picking up a form at the Whistler Women’s Centre, located at the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation Social Services Centre in Spring Creek, or by visiting www.hswc.ca/walkamile. Reynolds said organizers are also seeking volunteers for the event, and anyone interested can contact the women’s centre or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Day-of registration on Sept. 15 will open at 10 a.m., with the 45-minute walk to follow at 11 a.m.