Berkshire Residents Dance Against Sexual Violence

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Karen Allison taught the 'Break the Chain Dance.'

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Dozens of area residents fought against sexual violence Thursday by dancing.

WAM Theater, Human/Animal Violence Education Network and the Elizabeth Freeman Center teamed up to throw a dance party — joining millions of others across the globe in the One Billion Rising movement.

The dance party was one of many events in Berkshire County coordinated with the global movement to protest sexual abuse.

One Billion Rising was started by Eve Ensler as a call to action to show strength in numbers. It coincides with V-Day, which juxtaposes Valentine's Day with raising money and awareness for sexual violence victims.

"Through dancing, it is our way to be part of that global revolution," WAM Theater's Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven said.

The idea is that one billion women will be beaten or raped in their lifetime and the events rally men and women to made a stand against it.

"This is our movement," Janis Broderick, executive director of the Elizabeth Freeman Center, said. "If we want real change it is going to be us who makes it happen."

Organizers performed readings of Ensler's work and taught the attendees the "Break the Chain Dance" gathering room above Spice Dragon on North Street. The dance was to cap off the night for those participating in events across the county.



"The idea was that all these things would happen during the day and then end here," Ginhoven said.
 

 

Janis Broderick rallied the attendees to take action to fight against sexual violence.

Additionally, Thursday was also the kick off to the city's 10X10 Arts Festival so the dance was incorporated as part of the festival. Ginhoven said the dance is a "one-time thing" because the days happened to match up.

Any proceeds — beyond paying for the event itself — will be split between the Elizabeth Freeman Center and WAM. Sue Birn, president of the center's board of trustees, said "fun" events like dances help spread awareness to more people.

"It brings a lot of people out," Birns said, calling it a "celebration of women's lives."

Birns said red arm bands were passed out during the day to help further spread awareness of sexual violence. The arm bands also acted as "a way for people to feel connected to the movement."

Also calling for the end to violence against women, Mayor Daniel Bianchi declared Thursday as One Billion Rising Day in Pittsfield. Bianchi addressed the crowd saying he is "hopeful that the 21st century" will change things.


Tags: arts festival,   awareness event,   elizabeth freeman center,   fundraiser,   

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Berkshire County Kids' Place Gala Celebrates Courage

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

Michael Supranowicz was presented with the Founders Award. He was president of the Kids' Place board for two years and retired from Hillcrest Educational Centers. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The "Wizard of Oz's" the Cowardly Lion finds his courage by facing his fears with the help of his friends. 
 
"Like the Lion, many children just need someone to help them realize that the courage they need to heal from the abuse they have suffered is already inside of them," said Rosemarie  Phelps, chairman of the Berkshire County Kids' Place Board of Directors. "For 26 years, the Kids' Place has helped lead these children and their families down the path to recovery."
 
The path on Friday night was a yellow brick road to "A Night in the Emerald City," the theme for these year's fundraising gala for the nonprofit that was held at Country Club of Pittsfield. Phelps donned a purple witch's hat to welcome guests to the event that also included recognition of several individuals for their work for Kids' Place. 
 
Berkshire County Kids' Place has been providing a safe and healing place for abused children for more than a quarter century. The agency is funded through the state Department of Children and Families, grants and donations. It works closely with related agencies and the Berkshire County district attorney's office to serve the more than 400 children that pass through its doors each year. 
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