Students reach out, and learn, about a pervasive problem

April 1-8 is Sexual Assault Awareness Week in Hood River.

A free viewing of the documentary “Audrie and Daisy” will show at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4 at the Wy’east Middle School Performing Arts Center. The movie follows two teenage girls who are sexually assaulted at a party by boys they call friends and the aftermath that is all too common for victims of sexual assault. A panel discussion will follow, and Spanish translation will be available.

Both the city council and Hood River Board of Commissioners adopted the proclamation supporting the awareness week in the past week. (See page A2 for full text.) Belinda Ballah of Hood River Prevention Program has been working with citizens and students on outreach to the community.

“If one sexual assault happens, it’s one too many,” Ballah told City Council Monday in urging them to proclaim Sexual Assault Awareness Week.

A major focus is on communicating a sense of empowerment to youths to speak up and intervene, she said, by giving them information on what to do when a friend is dealing with sexual assault.


Here is the full text of the proclamation approved by the County Commission and the Hood River City Council:

WHEREAS, sexual assault is widespread and impacts every person in the community;

WHEREAS, rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment harm our community;

WHEREAS, child sexual abuse prevention must be a priority to confront the reality that 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls will experience a sexual assault before age 18;

WHEREAS, youth ages 12-17 are 2.5 times as likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault;

WHEREAS, community wide awareness is the first step toward preventing sexual assault;

Therefore we, the Hood River City Council, as part of the nationally recognized Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April) proclaim the week of April 2 – 8, 2017, Sexual Assault Awareness Week, (SAAW), knowing each day of the year is an opportunity to create change for the future. We join advocates and communities across the country in taking action to prevent sexual assault.

“They are not going to be bystanders but up-standers,” Ballah said.

Many programs are being conducted in the schools and others are open to the public, including the April 6 gathering at Hood River fire hall, on 18th Street near May, at 11 a.m. This will include a 90-minute presentation to the community, a sexual assault quiz, and airing of student videos.

The event is the monthly Gorge Ecumenical Ministries meeting, which the group has turned over to the topic of sexual assault, and is part of an effort by local churches to raise awareness, according to Ballah.

On April 2 at 10 a.m., sexual assault survivor Karen Shultz will speak at the Mid-Columbia Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, which meets at Rockford Grange, 4262 Barrett Drive. Music will be provided by Mike Ballinger, guitarist and lead singer with the band Barley Draught.

Other events:

April 2 — Kickoff; faith communities will receive messages during services, and trees will be decorated with ribbons and pledge cards on school grounds. Additionally, student videos will be show as theater ads at Andrew’s Pizza, and interviews will take place on Radio Tierra, KIHR and El Rio radio stations.

April 3 — “One Liners” will be posted in Hood River Valley High School classrooms, followed by class discussions.

Additionally, students and community members will publish letters to the editor and editorials in the Hood River News. See page A4 of this edition.

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