R.A.C.E.S. to host “Healing Works” at Indi Go

By Mara Shapiro

Sexual assault is a recurring topic of discussion on college campuses, and the University is no exception to the ongoing forum.  According to McKinley Health Center’s website, one out of every six female students at the University will survive a sexual assault throughout their time on campus. While sexual assault is a traumatic and damaging event in one’s life, there are ways to heal and overcome it. 

The Rape, Advocacy, Counseling, and Education Services (R.A.C.E.S) of Urbana will be hosting their annual “Healing Works” art show at the Indi Go Artist Co-Op gallery in downtown Champaign from Wednesday to Sunday. The art collection’s pieces are all submissions from sexual assault survivors.

Erin Sturm, assistant director of R.A.C.E.S, supports the art show’s insight from a unique perspective.

“Anytime that we can have a public place to support survivors is important,” Sturm said.

Kerri True-Funk, executive director of R.A.C.ES, agrees with Sturm that publicly displaying survivors’ art gives a voice to an often silenced group.

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“A lot of times there’s not a public forum for the healing process … it’s beautiful and empowering at the same time,” True-Funk said. 

On Wednesday through Friday, the show will go from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday the show will go from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. On Sunday R.A.C.E.S will be celebrating their five-year anniversary as a stand alone organization. R.A.C.E.S not only provides counseling, but legal and medical advocacy as well as educating the community on prevention of sexual assault. According to True-Funk, R.A.C.E.S is the oldest operating hotline in the country. 

Rachel Reardon, child and adolescent counselor at R.A.C.E.S, stresses the importance of students and community members attending the event.

“Until survivors become survivors, that’s when they find out about us,” Reardon said. “We don’t just serve the community, but the campus as well.”

Artwork that has been featured in the past has included paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures and poetry, among others. Reardon also stated that survivors will continue to submit artwork each year.

Even though R.A.C.E.S is off-campus, Reardon, True-Funk and Sturm all agreed that students should attend “Healing Works” and become more aware of sexual assault and how it may affect them or those close to them.

“A lot of students may have been exposed to sex violence. They can find healing for themselves or someone they know,” Reardon said.

Food, beverages and interactive events will be at the show. Anyone can take part in helping to make a monument quilt in honor of sexual assault survivors. 

“(The show) is different every year,” Reardon said. “You never know what you’re going to get.” 

Mara can be reached at [email protected].