This Valentine’s Day the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, along with the United Way of the Fort Smith Area and the Crisis Intervention Center, will host its fourth annual Rising in the River Valley. The event is a local commitment to One Billion Rising’s global action to end sexual assault and domestic violence. The event will begin at 11:30 a.m., Thursday, and will be held on Kinkead Ave., on the UAFS campus. A program will start at noon and a hot dog lunch will be provided.
Around the world participants in the global action to end violence will participate in various forms of demonstration, collectively calling for change. At UAFS a community dance of solidarity will be led by Megan Park with Chance 2 Dance Studio. A symbolic march will then be led around campus, in which attendees can hold signs advocating for a world free of violence and assault.
“It is so important to show our students the strength of their voices to incite change,” said UAFS Interim Chancellor Dr. Edward Serna. “On this campus and in this community, we have the power to make a global impact, and events like Rising in the River Valley further our mission to empower the diverse populations we serve.”
Penni Burns with the Fort Smith Crisis Intervention Center will speak to the importance of ending domestic violence and the impact just a minute of time can have on survivors. Judge Annie Hendricks of the Sebastian County Circuit Court will discuss uniting as a community, and Sebastian County Sheriff Hobe Runion will discuss Laura’s Law.
Additionally, a resolution by the UAFS Student Government Association will be read, and Fort Smith Mayor George McGill will make a proclamation.
Local organizations whose services are available for those who may be experiencing sexual assault or domestic abuse will also be on campus to provide information and assistance.
Organizers hope this event will help to re-engage and re-energize the community consciousness to resist and combat violence.