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Art of gold: 934 AW SARC creates mural for Sexual Awareness Month

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  • By Staff Sgt. Timothy Leddick
  • 934th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office

Last April marked the official 21st Anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The campaign was first formally recognized after its coordination and facilitation by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, established in 2000. Campaigns and events are held across the nation during this period to raise public awareness, but for some, sexual assault awareness is an ongoing crusade.
    
Elizabeth Swanson, the 934th Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, works tirelessly every day to promote awareness and prevention of sexual assault. 
    
“If we don’t acknowledge that a problem exists there’s no way that we can change it,” said Swanson. “When we bring awareness to these kinds of things and we improve our climates so we have a healthy [environment], everybody does better.”


    
For SAAM 2022, Swanson decided she would paint a mural to be posted by the 934th Airlift Wing front gate entrance. 
    
“I had the idea I wanted to paint something back in January [2022],” said Swanson. “Col. Lay wanted a lot of resiliency and [Sexual Assault Prevention and Response] messaging to take the form of constant background messaging. It’s something that people would see and it would maybe start some conversation.”
    
Her goal to spark conversation through her mural amongst others is in support of the growing social norm to do so already, she said. The #MeToo movement was a prominent campaign that came to light, that she recalls, engaged in conversation and acknowledgment of others and even incited conversation in workplaces and personal lives.

“The average person doesn’t necessarily take the time to look into these social issues, and so I think it’s a way to make it easier for them to be aware,” she said. “I want to break down some of the stigmas of talking about sexual assault and the SAPR program.”
    
However, Swanson’s mural is meant to convey togetherness, as she believes that SAPR originally stemmed from a place of negativity.

“I was looking for a universal symbol of respect,” she said. “I felt like the [holding] hands conveyed that pretty well. It’s happy and it’s fun and it’s kind of an ideal movie picture-perfect scene.”

Although her expression of art was her contribution piece to SAAM, Swanson continues to promote a healthy work environment through means and methods of conversation and group support. 

Swanson recalls an Airman saying to her ‘before we needed the SAPR program to help us talk about these things, but now these conversations are happening on our own.’ And with SAPR being established in 2005, that is quite the progression from a point in time almost two decades ago. She believes that awareness depends on the engagement of everybody to make a difference.
    
“I think the most important thing is just being able to talk about it,” said Swanson. “When we’re able to talk about these things we’re able to learn about each other. Sometimes that means talking about the uncomfortable things. If we never talk about anything uncomfortable, you miss a whole other side of life and a whole other way to connect with people.”