By Brian Hagberg
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Changes are coming to the annual events used to raise awareness about sexual assault, starting with the title of the annual observation.
This year, April will be known as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
“Nationally, it’s still known as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, but there’s a huge push in the military that we’re not just wanting to raise awareness, we want to focus on prevention methods,” said Paula Krause, Schriever sexual assault response coordinator.
This year’s SAAPM theme is, “Eliminate Sexual Assault: Know your part, do your part,” which helps put the focus on the prevention aspect.
“We really want to focus on that prevention,” Krause said. “We’re not just acknowledging the problem, but the next step is to try to prevent [sexual assault]. It’s a big focus of our annual training this year and we really wanted to be thinking more about how we can prevent this from happening versus just being aware that it’s happening.”
The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office will kick off SAAPM events with the traditional dodgeball tournament 10:30 a.m. Friday at the Schriever Fitness Center. The tournament will begin with an exhibition game between the Schriever Chiefs and Eagles. An inflatable 5K run will replace the color run this year.
“On April 15 we have the inflatable 5K, which has a lot of people curious about what exactly an inflatable run is,” Krause said. “If anyone has watched ‘Wipeout’ it is kind of like that. We’ll have inflatable obstacles as well as some other mystery obstacles and challenges.”
Krause said the events scheduled throughout the month serve multiple purposes for the SAPR program. People begin tying certain things to SAAPM, they give base leadership an opportunity to address sexual assault in less formal settings and the events allow people to feel more comfortable with SAPR members.
“I think when we get the base populace involved in fun activities, it makes us approachable,” said Cecilia Smith, sexual assault victim advocate. “We’re at these events with base members, we’re having fun and we’re getting our message across through the merchandise and information we’re giving out at the booths.”
In addition to the physical events, the SAPR office has placed mannequins at various locations around the installation. Each mannequin tells the story of a sexual assault victim who either is, or was, stationed at Schriever Air Force Base. SAPR decided to bring back the mannequins this year based on the feedback they received in 2014.
“I think what hit people the most was the awareness that sexual assault happens here,” Smith said. “The biggest imprint the mannequins have left on people is that sexual assault happens [everywhere].”
The SAPR office is encouraging small group facilitators to use Wingman Day as a time to hold one of the mandatory small group SAPR training sessions.
“Since we’re not doing a SAPR down day this year, we’re telling commanders and small group facilitators that if they want to do one of the small group sessions we have, they can do it in conjunction with Wingman Day,” Krause said. “Part of our 90-minute training deals with the wingman concept and taking care of each other, so they can tie that into Wingman Day.”
The month’s events will conclude with a Pinwheel Parade at the Child Development Center April 30. The parade observes SAAPM, Month of the Military Child and Child Abuse Prevention Month. Children from the CDC will be holding either a blue or teal pinwheel. Blue represents CAPM and teal is for SAAPM.
Volunteers are still needed to help with both the dodgeball tournament and inflatable 5K. People are needed to help run the events, man the water stations and pass out merchandise at the outreach tables. SAPR can use assistance year-round if people are unable to volunteer for SAAPM events, Krause added.
“Get involved,” Smith said. “It’s not just this month; we want people to learn something from us the whole year round.”
For more information, or to sign up as a volunteer, contact the SAPR office at 567-7634.