Base makes strides toward awareness

Building awareness of the impact that sexual assault has on victims, survivors and their families is an important issue for the U.S. Air Force and Luke AFB community.

This year’s Defense Department theme was, “Know Your Part! Do Your Part!”

In observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month a Walk a Mile in Their Shoes contest took place promoting individual, squadron and wing support by participants counting steps weekly throughout the month of April.

The event, held yearly in April, proved to be a success for the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office, the Luke AFB Integrated Delivery System and the tiger team planning committee for SAAM.

“The intent is to bring awareness to our community by active participation,” said Evelyn Perez, 56th FW Sexual Assault Response coordinator. “We provided participants with a cut-out tennis shoe and a pedometer.”

Each cutout, with name, squadron, duty phone, and decorating touches was posted on a wall outside the SAPR office. Each displayed progress made during the month and support in taking a stand against sexual assault and acknowledging awareness.

The contest was based on the honor system and weekly step totals were gathered and submitted to the SAPR office.

This year winners included Tech. Sgt. Barbara Plante, 944th FWPA, as the female with the most steps, 675,225 total. Tech. Sgt. Karl Clymer, 56th FW safety, was the male with the most steps, 416,961 total.

The 944th FW took home the traveling trophy as the squadron with the most accumulated steps with 3,101,990.

“Tech. Sgt. Barbara Plante broke the female category record held since 2006,” Perez said. “As for the squadron with the most accumulative steps, the 944th FW hit it right out of the ballpark.”

There were 120 participants, 20 more than last year. Individual winners, as well the 944th FW, will be recognized during June 7 wing stand-up. Winners will receive certificates and prizes.

“The trouble we have had in the past is getting the word out to everyone about different events on base,” said Jessica Maldonado, 944th FW interim Airman & Family Readiness liaison. “This year, I talked to people about it to help spread the word. I am very proud and honored to represent the 944th FW at the IDS. I am always encouraged when we are able to support our active-duty counterparts, and vice versa, to get the word out about such an important topic.”

Maldonado is a member of IDS and was part of the tiger team planning committee for SAAM. She established a Total Force Integration initiative with the base SAPR office and was instrumental in developing the winning 16-member 944th FW team. It was the most participation from the wing so far.

“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” originated in California in 2001 by Frank Baird, a therapist and volunteer rape crisis advocate, who had observed violence affects both men and women.

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