Youth vow to stand up for respect and kindness
(DESTIN, Fla.) November 10, 2015 – More than 100 people turned out for the 2nd Annual Walk 4 Respect at Morgan Sports Center in Destin on Halloween morning. The walk brought together youth from Okaloosa and Walton counties during National Bullying Prevention Month to talk and learn about healthy, non-violent relationships and treating everyone with kindness and respect.
The event kicked off with a proclamation by Destin Mayor Mel Ponder. The proclamation read in part, “Let this Walk 4 Respect be the start of a unified commitment to the education and prevention of violence within our community, and to recognize the need for raising awareness of the prevalence of abuse affecting our youth.”
Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley challenged the crowd by asking, “If kindness was a crime, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” He then presented a check for $1,500 from the Sheriff Star Charity to Shelter House, the domestic and sexual violence center serving Okaloosa and Walton counties. Shelter House, along with Project Respect, produced Walk 4 Respect with additional support from Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation.
Ponder and Ashley led off the walk. At the conclusion of the one-mile walk, everyone stopped off to sign an anti-violence pledge wall then enjoyed a free fall festival. Adults and youth alike enjoyed music from Horizon Entertainment and sampled tasty food from three food trucks. Bogarbecue, Cajun Meat Train and Rainbow Frost ice cream truck all turned out to show their support for the anti-violence movement.
“The community support for this event has been outstanding,” said Rosalyn Iovieno, Shelter House Executive Director. “Young people right here in our community are dealing with teen dating violence, bullying and cyberbullying. It is important to show them that there is help and that it is good to talk about it with friends or a trusted adult.”
Several community agencies had booths with information and festival games. Partners in attendance included COPE Center, Boys and Girls Club, Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, Panhandle Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), Junior League of the Emerald Coast and Shelter House.