Zumbathon® raises funds to prevent sexual violence

A lively group of Zumba® dancers raised both their heart rates and funds last weekend while at the same time sending an anti-sexual violence message to the community.

Nearly 150 Zumba® fans April 21 descended on Westwood Middle School in Blaine for the fourth

About 150 exercise enthusiasts April 21 attended a fourth annual Zumbathon® Party hosted by the Sexual Assault Action Team of Anoka County. The event was held at Westwood Middle School. Photo by Elyse Kaner
About 150 exercise enthusiasts April 21 attended a fourth annual Zumbathon® Party hosted by the Sexual Assault Action Team of Anoka County. The event was held at Westwood Middle School. Photo by Elyse Kaner

annual Zumbathon®. The event was hosted by the Sexual Assault Action Team (SAAT) of the Alliance for a Violence-Free Anoka County, a community-based action team.

Zumba® is a dance and aerobics workout combined with Latin American and international rhythmic music. Among its many dance moves are hip-hop, the samba and salsa, to name a few. The class at Westwood was 90 minutes in length.

The event, involving 22 instructors, 27 vendors, six SAAT volunteers and a silent auction, brought in $4,653.

Vendors, set up in the back of the gymnasium, donated a portion of their sales to the cause.

Participants paid $10 or a donation in an amount of their choice to attend.

Proceeds go toward the SAAT team’s efforts to promote awareness and prevent sexual violence and to improve access to services for victims. The SAAT’s adopted theme is Silent No More.

“Sexual assault continues to happen,” said Karine Zakroczymski, co-chairperson of the event.

“As long as it continues, there’s a need to continue,” she said of the Zumbathon®.

The funds

Zumbathon® funds have paid for the purchase of books on relationship violence available for checkout at the Anoka County libraries.

The funds have allowed SAAT to create and distribute a brochure, “Sexual Violence – Silent No More.” The piece defines sexual violence, explains what victims can do and lists Anoka County and metro area resources. Community clinics contact information, Nucleus Clinic in Coon Rapids and Red Door Clinic in Minneapolis, are listed as well.

And SAAT recently supported the arts in a domestic abuse and violence awareness campaign at Spring Lake Park and Columbia Heights high schools titled “Beyond the Mirror.”

“We want to continue to create that spotlight on sexual violence and to make sure victims have access to services,” Zakroczymski said.

This year’s Zumbathon® drew about 30 more participants than last year’s crowd of about 120.

“Every year we get a few more,” Zakroczymski said.

April is Sexual Violence Awareness Month.

Change is possible, said Dawn Strommen, chairperson of the SAAT and licensed psychologist for Lee Carlson Center. To help end sexual abuse and domestic violence, the most important factor is to create empathy.

When adults connect with themselves and start taking responsibility to make good choices and to be in touch with their emotions, a concentric effect takes place next among families, then small communities and, ultimately, the greater community.

“And it’s a tall order,” Strommen said. “If people can process their own pain, they can use it to develop empathy and a sense of connection.”

For more information on sexual violence contact RAINN, Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network at www.rainn.org or call 1-800-656-HOPE.

For a SAAT brochure e-mail Zakroczymski at [email protected].

The Anoka County Sexual Assault Crisis Line (24 hours) phone number is 763-780-2330.

The Sexual Assault Action Team of Anoka County recommended books available at a local library.

“Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of a Self,” by Susan J. Brison

“Invisible Girls,” by Patty Feuereisen, PhD.

“Letters to Survivors,” by Matt Atkinson

“Lucky,” by Alicia Sebold

Quest for Respect: “A Healing Guide for Survivors of Rape,” by Linda Braswell

“Recovering from Rape,” by Linda Ledray

“Surviving Sexual Violence: A Guide to Recovery and Empowerment,” by Thema Bryant-Davis

“Telling: A Memoir of Rape and Recovery,” by Patricia Weaver Francisco

“Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, by Jaclyn Friedman & Jessica Valenti

For more information, visit www.violencefreeanokacounty.org.

Elyse Kaner is at [email protected]