Walk to Raise Awareness for Domestic Abuse Far Exceeds Goals

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Stony Brook University, in conjunction with other SUNY schools and the One Love Foundation, spent the month of April partaking in a virtual walk-a-thon dedicated to raising awareness about the issue of relationship violence among college students. Participants logged their steps to help reach the goal of going 50 million yards and making it “Around the World for Yeardley.”

Stony Brook faculty, staff and students contributed 15,973,914 yards with more than 230 participants throughout the month of April.

Stony Brook faculty, staff and students contributed 15,973,914 yards with more than 230 participants throughout the month of April.

Yeardley Love was a student-athlete at the University of Virginia who tragically fell victim to domestic abuse which resulted in her death just weeks before her graduation. Her family created the One Love Foundation to educate others on the warning signs of domestic abuse and prevent similar events in the future. To honor her memory, her teammates went to the lacrosse field and starting running Yards for Yeardley, with the goal of one million yards jogged to honor victims of domestic abuse and decrease its prevalence.

In 2017, the SUNY Athletic Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee led a conference-wide objective to run 10 million yards for Yeardley, and wound up far exceeding that goal with more than 25.7 million yards in just 10 days. The circumference of the earth is approximately 50 million yards, and this year, SUNY schools throughout the state hosted “Around the World for Yeardley” events with the goal of going around the world for Yeardley, bringing the community together and sparking conversations that can save lives along the way.

Christine Szaraz, Coordinator of Sexual Violence Prevention and Outreach Programs at Stony Brook’s Center for Prevention and Outreach (CPO), collaborated with Greta Strenger, Coordinator for Life Skills in the Department of Athletics, to develop a plan for reaching students beyond Athletics. The CPO and Athletics partnership extended its reach to include other departments, most notably Healthier U, Stony Brook’s wellness initiative for SBU employees. Szaraz worked closely with Bryan Weiss, Director of SBU’s Healthier U program, to develop a platform on which to host a virtual Yards for Yeardley Challenge.

Once registered, participants were able to log the steps they walked, jogged or ran, or had the option of syncing their devices to track their efforts and have them logged automatically. Participants could also access a website with information about relationship violence and resources for getting help or helping others. Healthier U also generously contributed 10 FitBit Zips to be raffled off as an incentive to participants.

“The folks in Athletics also organized a special half-time event on April 21 during the Women’s Lacrosse Game,” said Szaraz. “Tables with information about the challenge were outside the Stadium to let people know what was going on, and people were invited to walk a lap around the Stadium during halftime to participate in the Challenge and contribute to our campus totals.”

The final results are in, and SUNY logged an extraordinary 66,535,819 yards! Stony Brook faculty, staff and students contributed nearly a quarter of the SUNY total with 15,973,914 yards and more than 230 participants throughout the month — we made it all the way Around the World for Yeardley!

Event organizers will be following up with participants on plans for next year as the University continues to work with SUNY and One Love to build on this year’s success.

For more information, or to get involved in campus violence prevention efforts, contact Christine Szaraz  at christine.szaraz@stonybrook.edu.

— Anthony Vertucci

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