(Bradenton, FL—April 1, 2014) Students from Manatee Technical Institute’s SkillsUSA Chapter held a rally and a walk against sexual assault at 10 a.m. on April 1, 2014. About 80 students from Web Design, Marketing, Cosmetology, Medical Coder/Biller, Patient Care Technician, and Electricity participated in the one-mile walk around the campus. The rally included survivor testimonials.
Event organizer Mary Raiman, a student in the Web Design program at MTI, explained the reason for the event was to support victims/survivors of sexual assault, to highlight April as National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and to support the work of Manatee Glens Rape Crisis Services.
“I am here in support of someone close to me (under 18),” said Cosmetology student Heather Hendricks. “We shouldn’t have to be afraid. We shouldn’t have to live in a society that judges us.” Hendricks stated unequivocally, “Everyone is entitled to a voice. If they can’t speak for themselves, someone needs to speak for them. That’s why this event is so important.”
Manatee Glens victim advocate Ashley Davis and outreach coordinator Natasha Nixon supported the event with educational information from Rape Crisis Services. Nixon kicked off the rally speaking to the students about the work they do. They also recruited volunteers to help support the center.
Cristin Smith, executive director of Lauren’s Kids, joined the students for the walk. Lauren’s Kids is a non-profit organization to prevent prevent childhood sexual abuse through awareness and education, and to help survivors heal with guidance and support.
Some of the students also plan to participate in a rally at Manatee Glens later in the day, as well as the Manatee County candlelight vigil for victims of crime at the Riverwalk at Rossi Park on April 10.