The sight of a student or teacher walking around in heels isn’t unusual. But the sight of them donning the heels and doing laps around a soccer field is a little more unusual.
Shortly before the end of the school year, around 25 students and teachers took to the field at Shawnee Mission South to do just that in an effort to raise awareness of domestic violence.
The Walk a Mile fundraiser featured the fashion-forward stroll, which took place between the two soccer games.
Each participant paid $5 to take part, and South’s student council executive board also arranged a silent auction, which raised an additional $433. Cynthia Hartwell, student council co-sponsor, said they would add additional funds to round off the total to $500 when they give the money to Safehome, a local domestic violence shelter.
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“With an event like this it’s a novelty. It’s a fun activity. It’s a fun way to raise money for a serious cause,” Hartwell said. “(Safehome is) an organization that helps here locally. There’s a lot of desire to see our help go here to Johnson County and the greater Kansas City community as opposed to something more national.”
The student council executive board was the main organizing force behind the event, she said.
“This is a very self-run group of students,” she said. “I can trust them to get things taken care of. It’s good to have motivated students.”
Several of the walk’s participants were familiar with the issues of domestic violence.
“I’ve had a lot of friends that have dealt with abuse,” said 16 year-old Brett Harrison of Leawood. “I’ve seen it first-hand, and I want to do something to help the cause.”
If helping meant rounding the soccer field in a pair of shiny red heels, he was prepared to do just that.
Some participants brought their own shoes. Jon Greenwald, 15, said some of his female friends took him to the mall to purchase his strappy silver heels. Sixteen year-old Jeff Nasse went with cheetah print wedges that “fit my personality,” he said.
Sixteen year-old Emma Ross, the student council’s parliamentarian, said she and her fellow board members tried advertising the event in many ways, from making a video that featured administrators wearing high heels to sharing facts about domestic violence during daily school announcements.
Members of the National Art Honor Society pitched in their expertise by building a large pink high-heeled shoe out of plastic foam to display at South during the month preceding the event.
Students at South and West trade off organizing duties for the event each year. Ross said Walk a Mile has struggled in past years draw people, and that she hoped this year’s efforts would help build attendance for future years.
Unlike some similar events, Walk a Mile allows both girls and boys to participate in its high-heeled walk.
“A lot of times it’s a male-only event, but we felt that limited our participants. It’s really not just about standing up for the women. It’s about everyone standing up for all the genders,” Ross said.
“Domestic violence and abuse is a heavy topic. Even as teenagers, we know people who have been affected by it. Doing something in a fun silly way, it lightens the mood.”