Did you know that October is Domestic Violence Awareness month? The third annual Stand Up for Safe Families Paddle Parade and Rally sheds light on this very serious issue in a manner that uses a fun and healthy activity to send a positive and hopeful message to families. It serves several purposes: honoring the lives lost to domestic violence; helping to prevent families from dealing with this tragedy; and letting families dealing with domestic abuse know that they are not alone.
The Stand Up for Safe Families Paddle Parade and Rally began two years ago and was conceived by Lauri Wright. Wright is a licensed chemical dependency counselor at Travis County Counseling and Education Services, and her love for paddleboarding as well as her work in the field inspired the idea. “I knew the moment that I started [stand-up] paddleboarding that I was going to do something,” Wright said. “I didn’t want to make it a doom and gloom kind of thing, which of course it can be, so we came up with something positive which is to ‘stand up’ for safe families."
Wright hopes that the SUP event can bring this somewhat taboo issue out in the open and prompt healthy discussion among families and the entire community. “We send children to school to learn how to read and write, but at home is where they learn to have healthy relationships,” Wright explained. “If their parents aren’t having healthy relationships then they don’t have good education on how to have one themselves so the cycle just continues and continues and continues and it gets worse.”
While the event’s primary purpose is to raise awareness for the cause, people are also welcome to donate to any of the Austin/Travis County Family Violence Task Force’s nonprofit partners: Arte Sana, Austin Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Furaha House, SAHELI for Asian Families, SafePlace, Texas Advocacy Project, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, and Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas.
Before the actual paddleboarding begins, guests can enjoy poetry readings and guest speakers. There will also be face painting for the kids. Sumner Erickson will provide live music throughout the event and snacks and beverages will be provided after the ride on the lake.
The Stand Up for Safe Families Paddle Parade and Rally will take place on October 3 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Texas Rowing Center dock. It is a family-friendly event and paddleboarders, canoers, and kayakers of all levels are encouraged to come out for the water parade. Paddleboards, canoes and kayaks will be available free of charge during the event, though all free rentals are on a first-come, first-served basis, so don’t be late! Feel free to bring your own water craft, and walkers are encouraged to attend as well; they can participate by walking along the banks of Lady Bird Lake as the group makes its way down the toward the Lamar Street Bridge. All event goers are also encouraged to wear purple in support of domestic violence awareness.