Janesville42.4°

YWCA blog invites public discussion

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
April 25, 2008
— Blogging for equality: It’s this generation’s version of marching and lobbying for a cause.

And Allison Hokinson, the YWCA community relations director who made the comparison, said a new blog initiative will be a catalyst for change in this community.


“We want to be the local leader,’’ she said, on issues of eliminating racism and empowering women.


That’s why the YWCA started an advocacy blog, Catalyst, in early April.


The local nonprofit social services organization has been working for change in Rock County since 1922.


Last year, for example, the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event raised awareness that violence against women and children is not solely a women’s issue. And the Saturday, May 3, Cinco de Mayo event, which originally celebrated YWCA Hispanic Outreach program clients’ cultural heritage, has grown into one of the region’s largest cultural celebrations with hundreds in attendance.


Hokinson said advocacy is strategically necessary for this organization to move forward, and the blog, which has potential to attract new members and capture another audience, is one way of doing that.


“The premise is to discuss issues that impact and improve lives,” Hokinson said of the national, regional and local advocacy initiative.


Blog topics, so far, have focused on gender equality without economic equality with a link to a National Women’s Law Center report and information about April 22 being Equal Pay Day. In-depth discussions will be posted Mondays, and links for weekend thoughts will be posted Fridays.


“We’re encouraging young women to own their issues, learn what they are passionate about, what they want to learn about and get involved,’’ said YWCA Executive Director Kerri Parker.


That will help the YWCA gain a new perspective.


“The issues on the blog ignite discussion,” Hokinson said, “and some conflict is healthy.’’


Feedback, so far, has “mostly come from people who know us already,” Hokinson said.


And that’s OK, she said.


“We’re not discouraged. Blogs take time to build trust, and we’ve just newly launched,’’ Hokinson said.


The YWCA, in its advocacy initiative, also will reach out to the younger generation by adding MySpace and Facebook to its Web site this summer.


“If more people use these tools for positive advocacy, just imagine how we could improve lives,” Hokinson said.


TO SHARE YOUR VOICE

Visit the YWCA of Rock County’s Web site: www.ywca.org/rockcounty.


Click on the square box that says BLOG, and it automatically takes you to the blog page.



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