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SAAM Events Round-Up

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There are many different ways that communities and campuses choose to commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). That's why we checked in with organizers from this past April to learn more about their events and the community response. Their responses help contextualize the planning process behind these events and also serve as an inspiration to future event planners. 


Group holding up jeans
Jacinda with The Philadelphia Prevention Partnership
Philadelphia, PA

Tell us about your event
For SAAM 2019, the Philadelphia Prevention Partnership hosted RAPE CULTURE: It’s Not in Your JEANS! The event was an open discussion among middle schoolers, high schoolers, and the community about sexual assault, rape culture, everyday consent, and surviving after sexual assault. We shared statistics and debunked cultural myths about sexual violence. Later on in the event, the girls were divided into groups and decorated their own jeans with drawings relating to the topics we discussed. 

What were the main goals of your event?
Our main priority was to help community members understand what resources are available if they or someone they know has experienced sexual violence. Secondly, we wanted to teach them how to practice everyday consent, whether it be giving someone a hug or sharing a photo on social media. We also wanted to get the community thinking about how they can use their voices to break the stigma surrounding sexual assault.

Describe the planning process 
We only started planning about a week in advance. Since most of the materials we use are from the NSVRC website, it didn’t take long to put our event together. I mainly used the online tools and statistics from the NSVRC’s website.

What were some memorable moments from your event?
My favorite part of our event was when we had our first male volunteer send in his photo, which encouraged other men to support our campaign by sending in their own photos, too. Knowing that our event was supported by men in the community was very touching and empowering.
With our school-aged students, I think the most memorable moment was seeing the concept of everyday consent click in their brains. When we first started the session, everyone thought consent only applied to sexual acts. By the end of the event, they understood the meaning of everyday consent. 

What was the main takeaway or message you hope attendees left with?
You don't have to be a victim to speak out against sexual violence. We can use everyday practices to advocate against sexual violence. 

What is one piece of advice you have for a first-time SAAM event planner?
Sexual violence is a tough topic to talk about. Not every event will be a huge success because people are afraid to talk about it, but don't let that discourage you. We need to have these discussions.


Teal crafts

Gena with Morongo Basin Sexual Assault Services
San Bernardino, CA

Tell us about your event
We collaborated with a popular, local coffeehouse to display art and poetry by local survivors, advocates and supporters to create our own SAAM Open Mic Night. Each piece of art and poetry represented overcoming sexual assault, advocacy, or a survivor’s perspective of sexual violence. Participants read poetry or danced, and we set up an information booth. For our event, all coffee sold that day had customized SAAM coffee sleeves, the employees wore teal ribbons, and the coffeehouse donated a percentage of their proceeds from the day to our agency. The crowd was very supportive and the Mayor of our town congratulated us on the success of the event!

What were the main goals of your event?
We wanted to make our agency's presence known in the community while honoring survivors and reaching out to those in need of services.

Describe the planning process
We began planning in February by brainstorming event ideas, hosting paint nights, hanging flyers and advertising on social media. Shortly after, we started accepting art and poetry from the public, and I began talking to the coffee shop about collaborating. They agreed to use our coffee sleeves and helped us determine approximate sales in a day to estimate how many to order. They were very excited to be a part of the event and expressed interest in partnering again next year. As far as advertising, our local radio stations made announcements about our event, and we used word of mouth to advertise our event to friends, family and clients. 

What were some memorable moments from the event?
One of our clients is an amazing poet! She has been making great progress with her counselor and she overcame her fears and read her own poem. While many of the clients had an advocate read for them, this was really special to hear her read her own story. We had several people visit our table and take info home or share their own stories. Many patrons thanked us for our presence that evening!

What was the main takeaway or message you hope attendees left with?
Sexual violence happens, it doesn't have to be taboo, it is never the victim's fault and there is help out there!

What is one piece of advice you have for a first-time SAAM event planner?
Start planning weeks in advance and communicate! Don’t be afraid to talk frequently with staff and your event venues. It might feel like you're a bother, but you want to stay fresh in their minds, so you can increase your chances of having a successful event.


Chalk words say "I will walk with you"

Vickie with A Safe Home for Everyone
Jefferson, NC

Tell us about your event
Chalk the Walk is a community-based event where we used chalk to write and draw inspirational art on the sidewalks of Main Street. Messages of hope and awareness for survivors and their family and friends decorated the entire town. 

Describe the planning process
We began planning several months in advance. Since we like to center many of our activities around the SAAM campaign theme, we usually wait until it is announced before we start advertising our event. We always find the SAAM toolkit very helpful in our planning process. We did a lot of social media advertising, mostly on Facebook and Instagram. We also wrote a newspaper article and appeared on local radio stations and talk shows to promote our event!

What were some memorable moments from the event?
The amount of support we received from community members and officials when presenting our ideas in front of town hall was heartwarming. Seeing so many people within the community come out and support our event made the experience all the more rewarding. 

What was the main takeaway you hope attendees left with?
We wanted people to know that no one has to go through this experience alone and that your truth is the truth.

What is one piece of advice you have for a first-time SAAM event planner?
Get as many ideas from online as you can, take advantage of the materials offered in the SAAM toolkit, and plan, plan, plan!


Group Celebrating Denim Day

Steph with Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, NC

Tell us about your event
Wake Forest students partnered with other universities—Forsyth Tech, Salem College, UNCSA, and Winston Salem State University—for their first ever joint Denim Day! The schools competed to collect the most pledges to wear denim and challenge victim blaming. The ultimate goal of the event was to show our support for survivors in the community and on campus.

Describe the planning process
We had two or three conference call meetings with the other schools participating to plan the logistics of the event. We started planning specific details of the event at the beginning of March.

What were some memorable moments from the event?
The Vice President of Campus Life attended our event to show solidarity, which meant a lot to everyone there. Another powerful moment from our event was when the student leaders from each school read their pledge to support survivors and end victim blaming together.  

What was the main takeaway you hope attendees left with?
Sexual assault is never a survivor's fault, no matter what they were wearing.

What is one piece of advice you have for a first-time SAAM event planner?
Start early, find partners, and have fun!


Woman reading at event

Services Empowering Rights of Victims
Millville, NJ
 
Tell us about your event
We hosted the event Reading: A Journey Through Struggle to Healing. Local authors who have written about their experiences with sexual violence came to our community’s local bookstore and read excerpts from their books. After their readings, they signed and sold copies of their books to attendees.

What were the main goals of your event?
Our main goal was to teach our community about sexual violence and what they can do to help raise awareness during SAAM. We also wanted to make community members aware of the resources available to them within the community.

Describe the planning process
We started planning in early March. We promoted the event mainly on social media, but we also distributed flyers throughout the community. Word of mouth was definitely most helpful in garnering interest, so we made sure to let people know about our event everywhere we went.

What was the main takeaway or message you hope attendees left with?
Survival is possible. You are not defined by your trauma, and you can use your experience to become stronger and help others rediscover their strength after trauma.

What is one piece of advice you have for a first-time SAAM event planner?
Start early, and don’t be afraid to ask questions! There are so many resources out there; it can be intimidating trying to find them, so ask! 


Group standing behind a table at event

Hafeezah with People Against Rape
Charleston, SC

Tell us about your event
We participated in the Day of Action, which is a nationally celebrated day dedicated to sexual violence awareness. Our event was free to the public with the goal of providing a space for community members to share their agency resources and host activities to support survivors of sexual violence. 

What were the main goals of your event?
We wanted community leaders to publicly share how they support survivors to make everyone in the community feel safe and welcomed. We also wanted to provide educational activities and resources about consent, sexual violence prevention, and how to support survivors. 

Describe the planning process
I started planning our event in November. First, I compiled a list of community agencies we partnered with last year to reach out to again. I then scheduled individual meetings with each organization to discuss how we could expand and improve upon last year’s event. I found it most helpful to take time to get to know the communities you want to attend your events before the actual events happen. This provided an opportunity to discover peak engagement times within the community, find locations that are most accessible to those without transportation, and allowed the community to maintain a collaborative vision for the event.

What were some memorable moments from your event?
It was adorable watching the little kids coloring the consent coloring sheets. They absolutely loved them!

What was the main takeaway or message you hope attendees left with?
We hoped our guests would be able to not only learn more about PAR services but also learn about other local community resources and their roles in supporting victims of sexual assault.

What is one piece of advice you have for a first-time SAAM event planner?
Give yourself time to prepare. It is never too early to start thinking of event ideas and reaching out to organizations you’d like to partner with. 


Flyer for Survivor Wellness Day

Emilee & Claudia with Rape Crisis Intervention and Prevention
Chico, CA

Tell us about your event
Our first annual Survivor Wellness Day was hosted in collaboration with local practitioners who offered free holistic practices throughout the day to support survivors in our communities. Free energy and body healing workshops were offered via reiki, massage, and fire-cupping. We also held group workshops, which included sound healing, meditation, and yoga. In our self-care room, attendees created mindfulness jars, decorated journals, created healing bracelets, and were connected with resources.

What were the main goals of your event?
Our main goal was to provide a multitude of healing options to our clients in a safe and accessible manner. Several staff members were on-site all day so that our clients would see familiar faces and feel more comfortable in a new setting. By offering free services, we hoped to help community members engage in self-care practices that may not have been accessible or affordable to them before.

Describe the planning process
We began planning the event in late December by spreading the word to local practitioners. By mid-February, we secured our team of community healers, and we started planning the activities aspect of the event. We advertised the event through social media, flyers, emails and in-person presentations to our agency partners. 

What were some memorable moments from the event?
It was amazing to see the outpouring of support from our community. We were overwhelmed by the number of practitioners willing to volunteer their time and services to our clients and survivors in the community. It was so fun hearing people express excitement over their first fire-cupping or sound healing workshop, or even their first opportunity in their day or week to rest and recharge.

What was the main message or takeaway you hope attendees left with?
Short-term, I hope attendees left feeling recharged and more balanced. My long-term hope is that the event helped provide our clients and community with a more comprehensive understanding of how to practice self-care. I hope folks left with more tools to utilize in their everyday healing process.

What is one piece of advice you have for a first-time SAAM event planner?
Start planning early; the event will come up faster than you think! Having a timeline—especially if it’s your first event—will help manage the organization and flow of the event. Also, make sure you reach out to coworkers and friends for support and accept the help folks are willing to give you. Planning events can be overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to ask for help! 
 


Hear more about the planning process from SAAM organizers: 

2018 Campus SAAM Events

2018 Community SAAM Events

2017 SAAM Events 

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