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Dance movement aims to raise awareness

2/9/2014

ELIZABETH GOLDEN

egolden@dailynews.net

The Women's Leadership Project at Fort Hays State University is spreading awareness of gender-related issues with an international dance movement. Last year, the organization V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls worldwide, launched One Billion Rising in honor of its 15th anniversary.

One Billion Rising is an international dance movement observed in 88 countries. This is the first year Hays is added to the list. The campaign was created as a way to combat domestic violence and celebrate survivors.

According to a report from the World Health Organization, one in three women will experience sexual or physical violence in her lifetime. That amounts to 1 billion women, giving the event the name One Billion Rising.

The Women's Leadership Project at FHSU is an initiative by the Center for Civic Leadership that offers educational activities to promote leadership development for women of all ages.

"We host events that are focused on world issues and how to overcome those issues," said Holly Weiss, a senior and Women's Leadership Project student coordinator.

"We basically aim to make the campus and community more aware of gender issues," said Sadie Lungren, another student coordinator for the program. "We do several campaigns throughout the year and One Billion Rising is just one of them."

In October, Weiss found a YouTube video compiling all the dance movements from the previous event.

"We figured it was a big thing," she said. "So we decided why not add Hays to the list of international participants."

The event planning began in November.

"We had to prove how we could make this event possible, made phone calls, got people involved," Weiss said. "People get really excited and want to be a part of it because it's inspiring."

The TigerDebs, Styles Dance Studio and the Hays High Dance Team will be performing at the event.

"It's not only a campus thing," Lungren said. "It involves the community as well. The more people that are aware of these issues, the better. It's a fun, exciting way to spread awareness of women's issues."

Weiss and Lungren will be speaking in between performances about statistics and gender-related issues affecting women.

"Women's issues sometimes have negative connotations," Weiss said. "This is a fun way to inform people and make them more aware. Some people don't want to talk about these issues, so if you can make it fun, they're more willing to listen."

The TigerDebs have created a dance and will be teaching it to everyone attending the event.

"It's really simple, really easy and only a couple minutes long," Lungren said. "Then we will do it all together and take it. It will just be a crowd of people hanging out and having a good time."

Weiss and Lungren are hoping their video will be added to the international video for next year. The event is anticipated to last one hour.

Several art pieces from the "In the Name of Love" art exhibit will be on display in the Memorial Union following the event.

The international art exhibit is organized locally by FHSU's Leadership 310 class and will be on display at the Hays Arts Council through February.

Weiss is also on the leadership team sponsoring "In the Name of Love."

"That will give another view point of global gender issues," Lungren said. "It's kind of neat that it's all in the same time frame."

Approximately three pieces will be on display, giving viewers a sample of the exhibit.

Donations also will be accepted for the Circle of Sisterhood, an organization that raises funds to build schools in villages where many girls might not have access to education.

"Thirty million girls don't have access to education," Lungren said. "That's why we're doing this sort of fundraiser.

The event will be at 6 p.m. Monday in the FHSU quad if weather permits. If there is inclement weather, the event will be in Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center. The event is free to attend, but donations are encouraged.