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Sexual assault awareness march slated for April 16

In an effort to curb sexual assault and bring awareness to the issue, Sunnyside's Lower Valley Crisis and Support Services will host a "Be the Solution" peace march on Thursday, April 16, at 3 p.m.

That's according to the center's director, Julia Hart, who added that those participating in the peace march will walk along Edison and Lincoln avenues. She said participants will gather near Taco Bell on Yakima Valley Highway.

The purpose of the march is to highlight the fact that this is sexual assault awareness month.

"The theme this year is being part of the solution," she said.

"If you're a good guy, encourage others to be good guys. If you see something bad, step up and object. If you see something good, step up and congratulate somebody," she said.

She said the Sunnyside-based crisis center recognizes that April is sexual assault awareness month every year. Last year, it was recognized with a candlelight vigil at Central Park.

This year, she said, she wants to target young people. That's why the march is slated for 3 p.m., after school lets out.

Hart said statistics show that abuse and violence among young people is on the rise, whether it's bullying or sexual harassment or domestic violence in dating relationships. Her hope is that students from Sunnyside High School will want to participate in the peace march.

Hart's hopes are high for the peace march. She'd also like to bring awareness to the need for victim advocates, as well as volunteers to serve in a myriad of positions.

Hart said regardless of one's time commitment they're able to donate or their skills, they are needed at the Lower Valley Crisis and Support Services center.

She rattled off a list of possible service areas, including the need for volunteers to transport victims, assisting with mailings, coordinating special events and providing on-site childcare. Those are just to name a few. Hart said the possibilities are endless and she's even hoping for an electrician to step forward for minor repairs, a graphic artist to help with the center's website and even a public relations person to help spread the word about special events and the center itself.

"There are all kinds of ways that folks in the community can volunteer," she said. "Everybody can be a part of the solution."

Hart said those participating in the April 16 peace march can begin gathering between 2:30 and 2:45 p.m. and her organization will provide placards and signs for people to hold during the event.

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