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At Walk a Mile In Her Shoes, the young join the old, men join women and the police join everyday citizens as they walk to raise funds to end violence.

“I remember how everyone was together and how they were enjoying it,” DeLeon, 16, said. “I was mostly inspired when I saw these little kids come to the stage and give a speech about their mother and they were wearing high heels. It was so nice to see our society together.”

Each year, the event is flooded with men — approximately 90 percent of the hundreds of walkers at Santana Row are men who stand in solidarity, pledging to support survivors of

Josh DeLeon holds one of his mother's shoes he wore at the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event. (Mya Hammond/Mosaic)

Guys put their best foot

forward for YWCA walk

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event brings

men of all ages together — in high heels

By Emily Hung - MOSAIC 2018

Oak Grove High School senior Josh DeLeon took a pair of shiny, silver shoes with 3-inch heels from his mother’s closet.

“Hey mom, can I borrow some heels?” he asked.

DeLeon planned to wear the high heels for Walk a Mile In Her Shoes, an annual event organized by the YWCA Silicon Valley, held on June 20 this year. DeLeon walked in lower heels at last year’s event, but he refused to chicken out this year.

violence and that they themselves will not be perpetrators of violence.

“I want to walk in someone else’s shoes,” DeLeon said. “In this case, I’m walking in a woman’s shoes to see how they feel. It relates to how a woman is walking normally and nothing is happening, then all of a sudden some man harasses [her] and starts whistling at [her].”

DeLeon is a part of MyStrength, a club at his San Jose school for young men aimed at helping the community and understanding male toxicity, social norms and harassment. He learned about Walk a Mile In Her Shoes in 2017 after attending the YWCA’s MyStrength summer program to develop his school club’s curriculum.

“Women in our society are being treated unequally and are harassed constantly,” DeLeon said. “I imagined in my head how I would feel if my mother, sister or any family member that was a woman was being harassed and being called nasty words.”

In the current climate, the MeToo movement has highlighted sexual harassment and assault, with both men and women coming forward saying that they also had experienced some degree of abuse.

Because of this, an increasing number of people now want to take action, and the YWCA — a multi-service agency that provides support to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking — has provided a platform to do that.

“We have a goal to raise awareness so that when someone is registering for the walk, they’re also signing an anti-violence pledge,” YWCA’s associate director of philanthropy Jaime Woods said. “It’s a continuum of violence and people are signing off to stand in solidarity with YWCA and our work. That’s the one way we’re raising awareness, but also raising funds for the critical services that we provide.”

The YWCA has been around for years before the MeToo movement, and continues to stay true to their mission of “eliminating race, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.”

David Adams, the team captain of Beer Channel, brought together a group of friends to work on raising money to aid the YWCA. The six team members have raised $17,940 as of June 19, surpassing their fundraising goal of $14,000.

“We’re at a time when our society is changing,” Adams said. “This is not something men would have done 15 or 20 years ago. There was a time when men would be afraid to do something like this. We’re trying to break this barrier to say that … this isn’t a women’s issue, this is a community issue and it’s not going to get solved unless men participate.”

If you know someone who has been sexually harassed or assaulted or has experienced domestic violence or human trafficking, you can call the 24/7 YWCA hotline at 800-572-2782.

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