KOKOMO, Ind. — For nearly 20 years, Indiana University Kokomo has supported the Family Services Association of Howard County’s (FSA) domestic violence shelter by hosting the annual Angel Walk.
That partnership continued Tuesday (October 25) with the annual fundraising walk, and added an educational element, as about 200 first-year students learned about the FSA, the shelter, and its mission for their A101 student success seminar.
In addition to the one-mile walk, the freshmen took part in an orientation at the FSA offices and made posters and T-shirts with anti-domestic violence messages as part of the community service required for their class.
Chancellor Mark Canada is proud the campus has been part of the effort and pleased to increase student engagement in the issue.
“This is important work,” he said. “This is about survivors. It shows we are not going to tolerate domestic violence in our community.”
Freshman Kaliyah White said she’s realized domestic violence is an issue that can impact anyone.
“It’s an ongoing problem that people face day to day, whether it’s in a relationship with a partner, siblings, or parents,” the Fort Wayne resident said. “I’m glad there are a lot of people here to support this cause.”
Josh Colvin is one of the A101 instructors whose class participated.
“Many students don’t know what goes on in our area with domestic violence,” he said. “This makes them aware of things that are happening in their own back yard, so they can support the survivors and hopefully raise awareness for prevention.”
Rylee Kendall, Noblesville, called it a valuable experience.
“I’m happy to be part of a group like this that can see a problem and look at what they can do to be part of a solution,” she said. “We can raise our voices and help others.”
Jace Cassity said growing up in a small town, he didn’t hear much about domestic violence.
“It was kind of an eye-opener,” the Sharpsville resident said. “This is a way I can be part of my community.”
Tracy Martino, FSA executive director, thanked Canada, students, faculty, and staff for their commitment to the shelter and survivors. The walk, with more than 300 participants from the campus and community, had raised more than $15,000 by Tuesday evening, with more anticipated.
That funding supports the growing number of people who need the shelter. Martino said in 2021, staff answered more than 3,000 crisis and information calls, and served at least 7,000 meals to more than 400 people — including 122 children. That number is growing in 2022, she added.
Martino appreciated the opportunity to educate students in hope of increasing prevention,and to grow advocates to support victims.
“They now have resources to help someone if they are in a domestic violence situation,” Martino said.
T-shirts created by the students are included in a clothesline display in Alumni Hall to symbolize survivors. White shirts represent women who died because of violence, yellow for battered or assaulted women, pink for survivors of rape and sexual assault, blue for survivors of incest and sexual abuse, purple for those attacked because of sexual orientation, and black for women attacked for political reasons.
Christina Romero-Ivanova, assistant professor of education, said the installation is a form of storytelling.
“Our clothesline is a symbol of advocacy, to let others know we take a stand beside survivors, as a supportive force,” she said. “We’re not here to speak for them, but to let them know we are beside them, to unsilence them.”