Teenage girl brings worldwide 1 Billion Rising event to Stuart to end violence against women

A teenage girl is making a difference on the Treasure Coast. Between class and homework she decided to hold a rally on Valentine's Day to stop violence against women.

 

"It's been a lot of planning and a lot of work especially the past month," says Olivia Ranieri, "I've been juggling school work, tests, going to all my classes amidst planning this event at the same time."

 

Olivia Ranieri is 16 years old and a junior at South Fork High School.  She began planning Friday night's event in Gazebo Park in Stuart last November.  

 

Her rally is part of a worldwide event called One Billion Rising that began last year on Valentine's Day. It's goal is to bring awareness and stop violence against women. According to the United Nations 1 in 3 women worldwide will be raped or beaten in their lifetime.  

 

"People need to realize this and help break the silence that surrounds this issue," says Ranieri.

 

Ranieri decided to start a local version of the even. She got the idea from her teacher who never imagined it would get this big. 

 

"I asked her to look at the website 'onebillionrising.org' and see what she thought about helping me with a school wide function February 14," says teacher Kim Ballard.

 

"I decided I wanted to make a larger impact on a community scale and not just my school," says Ranieri.

 

Ranieri formed a committee of nine women in different occupations.  She also used social media to spread the word about the event.

 

Her hard work paid off.

 

She secured a permit for the event from the city of Stuart and put together musical and dance acts, speakers and information tables.

 

Mindi Fetterman was one of the speakers.  She is a survivor of sexual abuse and runs The Inner Truth Project in Port St. Lucie which helps victims. She told the crowd that everyone is affected by this violence whether they know it or not.

 

"People you know have gone though what I've gone through," says Fetterman, "They've been molested, they've been raped."

 

Fetterman says talking about violence against women helps stop it and heal victims.  

 

The "One Billion Rising for Justice Martin County" event also helped raise money for The Inner Truth Project and SafeSpace in Stuart which helps domestic violence victims.

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