In recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Army Community Service is partnering with the Fort Rucker Military Police to present a workshop on self defense.

The class will be held April 17 at the Fortenberry-Colton Physical Fitness Center from 4:30-6 p.m. It is free and open to the public. Participants are asked to wear gym clothes to the event, including sneakers or gym shoes, said Twanna Johnson, garrison sexual assault response coordinator.

Parents are advised that the program would be inappropriate for children younger than 14. Registration is required by Monday.

"We are not socially aware nowadays. We need to be conscious of who is around us, what we are doing and where we are going, and not be so absorbed in our phones," she said. "We are multitasking instead of just focusing on getting to our car safely or shopping safely. A lot of times a predator will prey on those who are distracted and not paying attention to their surroundings."

The course will be taught by Staff Sgt. Shamika Sanders, but Staff Sgt. Jason Goldsmith, traffic management collision investigations NCO in charge, will be talking to participants before the demonstrations. Topics will include, things to be aware of and when to be aware of them, assault percentages, environmental aspects of assault in public places, safe practices of being alone in public places, and situational awareness.

"This class will not teach people how to attack someone. It will just be a basic class on how to defend yourself and get away from an aggressor if you are approached or attacked," said Johnson. "She will just demonstrate basic and fundamental techniques."

Proactive behavior is critical to staying safe, she continued, saying there are simple ways to stay safe.

"Try not to be focused on talking on the phone or texting. Don't have your arms full of bags where you can't protect yourself. And, have your keys out and ready to get in your car quickly once you leave a store," Johnson said.

Men and women both need to be aware of their environment more. Men can be a victim of a mugging or assault as well when they are out in public, she continued.

"Technology really distracts us and oftentimes our hectic schedules really don't permit us to put down the phone or device to focus on a simple task like walking through a parking lot, but it really diminishes our safety when we do things like that," said the sexual assault response coordinator. "We need to always be alert in our communities, no matter how safe we might feel. You can never be too careful."

Though people may feel protected in a small community, especially when inside the gates, Johnson said that people cannot take the fact that they are in a small, southern community for granted.

"We like to think that people that we know and trust, and that others know and trust who live here, are respectful and kind. But no matter what, we need to be alert and have a heightened sense of our surroundings when we are alone, no matter what we do or where we are at," she said.

Though personal security always needs to be a top priority, she said that the class is not going to be all serious and somber.

"It will be fun for everyone involved," she said

For more information and to register, call 255-2382 or 255-0960.