Sep 09

A DECADE OF WALKING: THE HISTORY OF YWCA WALK A MILE IN HER SHOES®

by Downtown Calgary · 0 comments

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In honour of the YWCA of Calgary WALK A MILE IN HER SHOES® 10th anniversary, we thought it would be fun to showcase the evolution of the legendary event where men walk in high heels for family violence prevention…

In the Early 2000s The YWCA was often referred to as the “best kept secret in town” – doing important work but seemingly lacking a strong presence in the community. The expansion of services coupled with funding restraints meant the YWCA had to look to other means to achieve a balanced budget. YWCA WALK A MILE IN HER SHOES® was born out a need to engage the community and raise awareness of key issues affecting women.

In 2005, the Calgary Police recorded more than 11,500 domestic violence related calls, and Alberta had the second highest rate of family violence in Canada (Statistics Canada, 2006). That year, the YWCA supported 376 women and 495 children with emergency shelter.

2006 Cardel Homes played host for the first YWCA WALK A MILE IN HER SHOES® fundraising event. The event saw 92 walkers and raised $122,000 for the YWCA. The funds raised were directed to YWCA Mary Dover House to support women’s homelessness prevention.

2008 The event was revamped to focus on another important issue: domestic violence. Funds were directed exclusively to the YWCA Sheriff King Home emergency shelter. The shift in fund allocation came after a successful first YWCA KEEP A ROOF OVER THEIR HEADS® event, which had a focus on women’s homelessness.

2010 The annual fundraising event had grown to host more than 200 men walking in increasingly splendid high heels and raised more than $300,000.

2013 This was a record fundraising year with 275 participants and more than $425,000 raised. It was also the year that long time event supporter Michael Broadhurst took a pair of heels to the peak of Mt Kilimanjaro and famously donned them for a photo op 5,895 meters above sea level!

In 2014, there were more than 16,500 domestic violence related calls to Calgary Police. The increase over the decade can be brought into context when we note the population increase of nearly 300,000, a shift in Calgary’s cultural mix, and changes in the conversation. As awareness increases, more people experiencing domestic abuse are coming forward and seeking help. Alberta, having the second highest rate in previous years, shifted to having the fourth highest rate of family violence in Canada (Statistics Canada, 2014).

The YWCA supported 233 women and 257 children with safe shelter and basic needs at the YWCA Sheriff King Home emergency shelter in 2014.

Today The presence of the YWCA and its four signature events is stronger than ever in the community, as is the demand for services due to the current economic landscape. The YWCA, along with returning and new participants and supporters, looks forward to the 10th anniversary of YWCA WALK A MILE IN HER SHOES® on September 17, 2015.

Thank you Calgary for your enduring support!

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This has been a guest post written by Hayley Gislason, Marketing Specialist, YWCA of Calgary on behalf of Downtown Calgary. If you have a blog post suggestion or want to do a guest post please email [email protected]

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