By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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PORT TOWNSEND — A Port Townsend High School student is using his senior project to increase awareness about violence against women.
Michael Shively, 18, has recruited 90 students from Port Townsend and Chimacum high schools to participate in the high-heeled “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event set to start at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 8.
“My purpose is to educate people on how easy it is and important it is to get the discussion started about sexual assault and domestic violence,” he said.
“We need to educate the youth so we can take preventive action because it is only with preventive action you can take advantage of the situation,” he added.
In “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” walkers — especially men — are urged to wear high heels to symbolize the pain felt by those who suffer from domestic violence.
The fourth annual walk will begin at Rotary Park near the ferry terminal and continue down Water Street to the Northwest Maritime Center at 431 Water St.
There is no charge for the walk, but a donation of $5 is suggested to cover the cost of shoes and T-shirts.
Those who wish to participate are asked to gather at the park at about 5:30 p.m. to check in.
The event is sponsored by Dove House Advocacy Services, a nonprofit domestic-violence treatment center in Port Townsend.
Dove House volunteer coordinator Jeannie Ramsey said march participation has grown each year and that 200 people could join in Wednesday.
To reflect this, Water Street will be closed during the march, she said.
At the conclusion of the march, participants will hear speeches from Dove House Executive Director Beulah Kingsolver; Port Townsend Police Chief Conner Daily, who is also president of the Dove House board; and Jefferson County Sheriff Tony Hernandez.
Shively, who is participating in the event for the third time, also will make some remarks.
Shively said only a dozen students took part in last year's march.
In addition to recruiting students for the march, Shively has organized a private benefit dinner for students following the march.
Students can hear a presentation about domestic violence and how they can work toward its prevention at the invitation-only dinner at the maritime center.
It is free to those invited, though donations for Dove House will be accepted.
The Port Townsend Food Co-op will provide the food, with the high school cooking class preparing the meal.
Shively said First Presbyterian Church has contributed $700 to sponsor student participation in the dinner.
Shively, who will graduate from high school next month but who has not chosen a field of study, seeks to open the dialogue in a constructive way.
“I want people to know that we are represented and unified in opposition to domestic violence, and that we will not tolerate it in our town,” Shively said.
“We can talk about domestic violence in a laid-back setting rather than being uncomfortable with the word.
“We are doing something, even though we are young.”
For more information about the walk or Dove House, phone 360-385-5292 or email email@example.com.
Dove House is at 1045 10th St. The website is www.dovehousejc.org.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.