In support of Sexual Assault Awareness month this passed April, my good friend Maude Gorman was generous enough to come down from Boston to speak to the WAVE girls to tell her story. Maude is currently a senior at Stonehill College. Maude and I met as AmeriCorps members in 2016. She is the former 2015-2016 Miss Massachusetts World, where she used her title to raise awareness for sexual assault and prevent victim-blaming. Maude also had the opportunity to work with MA Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, and former Vice President Joe Biden on enhancing measures to prevent sexual assault violence.
Maude was able to meet with the WAVE girls of Diman Vocational Regional School to tell her story of being gang-raped at the age of 13. She was able to provide an inclusive dialogue where the girls could ask her specific questions about her story and how she got to where she is today.
On February 1, the W.A.V.E girls of Diman Vocational Regional High School were fortunate enough to meet with Fall River Councilwoman Linda Pereira. Councilwoman Pereira discussed her early life growing up in Fall River as well as her decision to run for City Council. Pereira also discussed her full-time position as an investigator for child abuse cases for the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office.
The girls were able to get in some questions that they had for Councilwoman Pereira. We hope to have Pereira re-join our group to further discuss some of the issues that youth in Fall River are currently facing. This could help continue building the bridge to connect the City Council and youth.
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As an American, we are fortunate enough to live in a place with endless opportunities and a tremendous amount of freedom. Part of the reason why we have our civil liberties is because of protests, marches and sadly, war. People fought for equality, acceptance, and a better life. Today, that continues. In 2017, we are still fighting for equality for all and acceptance of all. We still have a lot of work to do.
Recently, I attended the United States’ largest protest march in history — The Women’s March. 7 continents, all 50 states, and 125,000 people in Boston — men, women, children were marching. Although, I did not have the means to fly down to D.C, I was able to attend a sister march in Boston. Here are a few things that I learned to help you guys prepare for a protest march.
- Do your research — Know what you’re marching for and why
- Know what your values are, understand why it’s important to you, and do extensive research on why the march/protest is happening in the first place.
- Find the list of events for the day
- More often, there will be a line-up of speakers. Try to get a timeline of the speakers so you have an idea of when the march starts. Waiting can be agitating sometimes.
- Get a map of the event
- Depending on the type of protest, the area will get extremely crowded. It’ll be difficult to move around. More than likely, you will not be able to move. Get a map of where the main stage will be and where the exits are. If you’re claustrophobic or get anxiety from crowded places, plan ahead and stay on the outside!
- Dress for the occasion
- It depends on what you expect to get out of the protest whether it’s getting media coverage or being comfortable. I’ve seen people make bold statements on what they wore or didn’t wear. I’ve seen people dress comfortably and weather appropriate. You are going to do a lot of standing. At least, wear comfortable shoes!
- Your sign
- This is probably one of the coolest parts of protests. People get really bold and creative with their signs. Write what you feel. Be bold. Be funny. Get media coverage!
- Bring snacks/water
- These things can be long events. You want to travel light but also bring a few snacks and a bottle of water with you!
- Protests can be unpredictable. Know your rights & Be Safe!
- A peaceful protest can turn into a violent protest. Your intentions might be completely different than someone else’s intentions. Safety is number one.
- Be respectful at all times
- Being peaceful and exercising your right to free speech is more effective than insults, destroying communities, or resorting to any kind of violence.
- Know yourself
- Depending on whether or not you want to civilly disobedient, that is YOUR choice. But understand that there are consequences to that, like getting arrested. Are you there to for peace or violence?
- Make it memorable
- These marches go down in history. YOU are a part of history. You will be able to tell your kids and grandkids all about this. It’s an awesome thing to be a part of. Make it memorable.