HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley’s Teen Advocacy Board (TAB) has launched a T-shirt sale fundraiser to bring awareness to survivors of sexual assault and abuse. All proceeds from this fundraiser will go to the Survivor Theater Project, an organization that supports survivors of sexual violence.
The teens of Girls Inc. of the Valley have created Project TEAL to let survivors know they are not alone, and that the community wants to support them and hear their voices. A local shop, La Diáspora, will host a pop-up shop for this fundraiser on Tuesday, Feb. 22 from 5 to 7 p.m. at 234 Exchange St., Chicopee. Those who contribute a $20 minimum donation will receive a T-shirt.
“I find hypersexualization to be an extremely important topic because, even though I am not the ‘average size,’ I can still be easily hypersexualized,” said TAB member Kaitlyn J. “It can happen to anyone, and we’re here to bring awareness to that.”
The fundraiser location, La Diáspora, is a collaborative space for local creators, run by local creators. All its merchandise has been designed by creatives from Chicopee and neighboring areas. The T-shirts for Project TEAL were created by teens to bring awareness to the reality of sexual violence and sexual harassment toward many, especially women and girls.
“It’s been so powerful to see our Teen Advocacy Board members come together to craft this campaign from the very beginning,” said Becca Neubardt, Girls Inc. of the Valley’s director of Middle and High School Programs. “Many of the TAB members have been affected by sexual harassment and sexual violence either personally or in their close contacts. They have a really clear analysis that the problem is not how someone presents themself, it is the way that our culture and media often treat women and girls as sexual objects and nothing more.”