A collaboration is underway to focus on the prevention of sexual violence. Crisis Services is sharing a Sexual Assault Prevention grant from the state Health Department with the YWCA of Niagara and RESTORE Sexual Assault Services will share in the regional grant.
The grant will allow these organizations to work together to fight sexual violence as a public health issue.
Crisis Services said year one of this grant will focus on working with and supporting local college and university campus communities to address and improve 'response to and prevention of sexual violence.'
Caitlin Powalski is the Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator for the grant. She tells WBFO News it will help enhance the fight against campus sexual assaults.
"Our hope with both this grant and working with our campus partners is that we see a change in culture -- that there are safe and healthier campuses for our students to come forward forward if they have been victimized or they see themselves as a survivor," said Powalski. "We are seeing a revolution in how we create safe passages for students to come forward and seek help."
The grant team is also calling on the community to join social media on Twitter and say 'no' to the acceptance of sexual violence by Tweeting #NOMORE.
“As the leader in our respective counties on sexual assault crisis response and community education, prevention is the next logical step in our spectrum of expertise. While we have been implementing prevention strategies since 2006, this grant allows us to go to the next level, supporting a Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator who is working alongside or partners to develop a regional community change strategy that also addresses the uniqueness of each county,” said Robyn Wiktorski-Reynolds, Director of the Crisis Services Advocate Program.
The effort includes both the cities of Buffalo and North Tonawanda. Buffalo's Deputy Mayor Ellen Grant said this should send a message that sexual and domestic violence will not be tolerated.
"It's that we won't tolerate, by working together, by using every tool at our disposal, and by refusing to ever back down or give up," said Grant.
City of North Tonawanda Mayor Arthur Pappas is pleased to see the grant will help target prevention on college campuses.
"We now have a movement to go further and preventing and that's the key word -- preventing sexual violence. Now there's a soiled way to increase awareness," stated Pappas.