Campaign against violence growsHundreds of students made the pledge to end violence against women and girls last week. During lunch at Superior High School on Tuesday, more walked up and added their signatures beside red handprints on banners in support of the White Ribbon Campaign. In return, they received a white ribbon and a bracelet to remind them of the pledge.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Hundreds of students made the pledge to end violence against women and girls last week. During lunch at Superior High School on Tuesday, more walked up and added their signatures beside red handprints on banners in support of the White Ribbon Campaign. In return, they received a white ribbon and a bracelet to remind them of the pledge.
“I think it’s one of the biggest things we’ve had,” said Nicole Mattson, a student council member who worked on the White Ribbon Campaign. “I don’t think we’ve had anything this powerful.” About 300 signatures were collected last week; Tuesday, at least 200 more were added.
“I think it’s a great event,” said SHS Principal Kent Bergum. A trio of volunteers from the Douglas County Domestic Abuse Coordinated Community Response Team — Cody Androsky, Community Policing Officer Bonnie Johnson with the Superior Police Department and Douglas County District Attorney Dan Blank — partnered with youth from the SHS Student Council, Key Club and athletic teams to bring the White Ribbon Campaign to Superior.
“That’s such a big piece of this, getting kids to understand what it was and then supporting it from the ground up, and getting other people to think about it, “Bergum said. “It’s becoming now, really, a message from kids to kids.”
The White Ribbon Campaign began in 1991 in Canada. White ribbons were worn during the week leading up to the second anniversary of the massacre of 14 women at the Universite de Montreal engineering school. With only six weeks preparation, an estimated 100,000 men across Canada wore a white ribbon as a personal pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls. The campaign has spread and now takes place throughout the world. It hasn’t been held in Superior for the last 10 years. Members of the Coordinated Community Response Team decided to bring it back this year, with help from students.
“The kids have been absolutely fantastic,” Johnson said. “They’ve found out what they’re signing before they’re signing; they’re not just doing anything blindly.”
It made sense to launch the campaign at the high school, organizers said.
“I think it’s super important to plant the seed at the early ages that violence against girls and women is wrong, no ifs, ands or buts,” Blank said. “And to take the action of pledging … hopefully carries the point into the future.”
Along with the signature drive, white outs were planned during Tuesday night’s home hockey game and Saturday’s home basketball game. Students were asked to wear white to the events not just to show their Spartan pride, but as a pledge not to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls.
In addition, the University of Wisconsin-Superior Gender Equity group hosted a “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” charity walk last weekend to raise money for the White Ribbon Campaign. Organizer Tim Sislo said about 30 people participated and they raised about $400.
And this, Mattson said, is just the beginning.
“As each year comes we want to grow bigger … Then it won’t just be focused here, the whole community can be involved and spread,” she said. “So just be looking forward to the future.”