Students gain momentum in fight against child sexual abuse

UNIVERISTY PARK, Pa. — In observance of National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Penn State students will be joining with the community this April to raise awareness and funds for the prevention of child sexual abuse. Now in its second year of fundraising, the One Heart Campaign will continue efforts to secure contributions for the Vision of Hope Fund of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR).

In December 2011, Penn State formed a partnership with PCAR and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, national leaders in the field of sexual assault response and prevention. Among PCAR’s many initiatives is the Vision of Hope Fund, founded in 2005 to protect children from the devastation of sexual abuse by increasing adult responsibility and accountability. Gifts to the fund have supported Internet safety programs for parents, continuing education for family physicians, and training for professionals who are mandated reporters of child abuse. 

“After the University partnered with PCAR, the One Heart Campaign was established as another avenue of local support,” said Tori Smith, co-founder of the One Heart Campaign and a junior finance major from Yardley, Pa. “Students are at the heart of this University and so who better to sustain Penn State’s efforts in advocating for the prevention of child sexual abuse than the student body itself?”

This year, One Heart will kick off Penn State’s Sexual Violence Awareness Week by hosting “One Heart’s Lighting the Way Run” at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 6. Symbolizing the statistic that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually victimized by the age of 18, runners can choose from 4- or 6-kilometer races. The cost of registration is $10 and all interested parties can visit the PCAR project site www.theirhope.org to register for the run.

On April 12, One Heart is collaborating with several other student-run organizations to participate in Sexual Violence Awareness Week’s “Rock Against Rape.” This awareness event will be held 3-7 p.m. on Heister Street in downtown State College, and will feature several notable speakers and musical acts. The community-centered event is planned as a celebration for the survivors of sexual violence and to build awareness of the issue.

“The first step toward ending childhood sexual abuse is increasing awareness about how to recognize and stop it,” said Kristen L. Houser, vice president of communications and development for PCAR. “Through the One Heart Campaign, the students of Penn State are challenging alumni and friends to join them and to join our organization and the University in the fight to protect children.”

One Heart is encouraging corporate partners and University faculty and staff to hold “Blue-nited We Stand” fundraisers on Fridays through the month of April. Participants are encouraged to show support by wearing blue and making donations to PCAR through the One Heart Campaign. More information about how alumni, friends, and businesses can become involved with the campaign is available at http://sites.psu.edu/oneheart/campaign/. Gifts can be made online at www.visionofhopefund.org.

The founders of the campaign, in addition to Smith, include Dan Rost, a junior finance and accounting major from Waynesboro, Pa.; Anand Ganjam, a sophomore finance and accounting major from York, Pa.; and Zack DeVoti, a junior finance major from Fort Salonga, N.Y.

“Building awareness is an essential piece of this annual campaign,” said Smith. “Through our events we are encouraging students and the larger community to play an active role in preventing future occurrences of child sexual abuse. In doing our part, we hope to make an impact on a national level and to show the world that Penn State cares.”

Details about additional events Penn State campuses are hosting during Sexual Assault Awareness Month are available online

Last Updated April 30, 2013