By Maureen RoseOctober 19, 2009
A domestic abuse awareness program in Corydon, Ind. Oct. 10 took a creative approach to helping men understand women in general and abused women specifically.
Called "Walk in Our Shoes," the awareness program was part of the Limeberry Lumberjack race and family events, sponsored by the Harrison County YMCA. The Domestic Abuse Awareness Committee had specially-made red high heels available in large sizes so that men could wear them, and walk the 200-foot race in the spikes.
The Bluegrass Challenge Academy, a resident program on Fort Knox for high-risk teens, sent a contingent of volunteers to Corydon to help with the day's events. The boys helped in other areas, especially the obstacle course that featured a mud pit, which they traversed with the gusto only testosterone-laden creatures can bring to dirt.
Afterward, BCA instructors Heather Mann and Linda Cooper asked the boys if they would also like to try the high-heeled race.
"Nobody had their arm twisted," Mann said. "They were good sports about it."
Nine of the BCA teens ran in the race, red heels and all.
Auston Finn said it was "awkward" trying to race in high heels.
Nick Robertson said, "They hurt the balls of my feet."
Jose Martinez said, "It felt like I was going to fall forward."
The young men gave the race a try, but were glad it wasn't the usual mile they are accustomed to marching.
"If you had to go a mile, we would have had twisted ankles," Martinez said.
"Melissa Cast, the chair of the DAAC, said the race was supposed to be a somber occasion," explained Mann, "but men in bright red heels is bound to make you smile."
The BCA program teaches high school dropouts how to set and reach goals, life skills, and works with them academically to pass their General Education Development test. When the boys returned to the Fort Knox campus, they told their classmates about the high heel race.
"Most of them said, 'Is that a good thing or a bad thing'' according to Martinez.
Cast said she appreciated the boys' participation.
"I thought it was great," she added. "We ran the gamut from youth to grown men."
The race attracted approximately 30 walkers, with 16 of them men and more than 50 percent of those men coming from the BCA.
"The funny thing was that those (cadets) were flat-out running in their heels," Cast said.
One of the mothers of a BCA cadet saw the article with photos of her son in high heels in a Louisville paper. She called the BCA at Fort Knox to say how proud she was of her son.
The BCA requires all cadets to participate in service projects during their time in the residential program. Most of the projects occur in the communities around Knox and most require serious time and elbow grease.
Finn - the race's winner-- said, "My favorite project was this one; it was fun."
All the cadets said they would race in high heels again, if asked.
"It was for a good cause," Martinez said. "But I wouldn't go out (on a date) in them or anything."