The worldwide day to wear jeans to bring awareness and speak out against sexual violence was discussed at the most recent Partners of Ottawa County, Inc. (POCI) meeting.

MIAMI— The Community Crisis Center (CCC) will be hosting “Denim Day” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 26 at Northeastern A&M College to share information about sexual violence.

The worldwide day to wear jeans was discussed at the Partners of Ottawa County, Inc. (POCI) meeting on Thursday.

POCI is a 501(c)(3) organization working for the betterment of families, especially children and youth. Projects the coalition is involved with are Bright Futures Miami, Man-Up/My Life and Running Wild. The mission of POCI is to promote and support Ottawa County as a driving community dedicated to improving quality of life, fostering hope and creating opportunity.

Cyndy Keys, CCC Sexual Assault Prevention Coordinator, announced that the month of April is Sexual Assualt Awareness Month. “Denim Day” is a movement which speaks out against sexual violence and victim blaming, especially on the grounds of appearance. The day also commemorates the 1990s Italian woman whose rapist's conviction was overturned because she was wearing tight jeans.

Dubbed as the “jeans alibi” by Italian lawmakers, the court ruling said that a woman couldn’t be raped if she was wearing tight jeans because they would be impossible to remove without her assistance.

“It’s an international and national movement,” Keys said. “It’s also statewide. The state Health Department, the Coalition Against Sexual Assault in Oklahoma City and all of the universities in OKC including NEO College will be participating. On April 26, we’re asking everyone to wear jeans as a protest to end violence.”

In Action Group reports, Tracie DeLano, chair of the Positive Youth Development Committee, stated that the group’s goals are to bring the developmental assets information to youth in Ottawa County. The group also hopes to inspire partnerships and to build partnerships outside of the ones from the local area.

“Our plan is to provide a day for all Ottawa County school personnel- educators, teachers, administrators, cafeteria workers, janitors, everyone who works for the public schools,” DeLano said. “The developmental assets will be a part of the program that day, but it will also give us an opportunity to highlight POCI and our mission in the community to work together to bring other people on board. We’re really excited about that, and we’re in the process of working out dates and times for the superintendents.”

Additionally, Jordan Barlow, chair of the Poverty Action Group Committee, mentioned that the group had its first meeting last Monday and discussed the roles the committee will be playing in the community.

“We’re coming together with the understanding that we can’t solve the issue of poverty in our community, but we can better coordinate the resources that are currently available so that certain needs are met more efficiently,” Barlow said. “We should be looking at how to address the poverty mindset, and how that has stripped our community of certain hopes and the pride we’re trying to restore.”

The Poverty Group will be focusing on the perspective of poverty alleviation instead of eradication through respectful dialogue and intentional coordination, Barlow said.

The group’s first strategy is to provide a Community Action Poverty Simulation. The simulation will have booths set up where each participant will visit and face challenges that real families facing poverty go through.

“We’re essentially going to bring the poverty simulation to Ottawa County,” Barlow said. “We’re not going to have to pay for it. It will essentially put people into the experience of what it’s like to live in poverty. You show up at this event and you get a card that has a certain scenario of a lifestyle. It could say that you’re a single mom with two kids, you only have custody over one of them and you have four tasks. The tasks could be to go get Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) assistance, secure a daycare for your child and also go to the health department.”

The simulation will help open people’s mindset to the different struggles that people address living in poverty, Barlow said.

“While we in the community can have things like resource directories available for people, those resources aren’t always as easy to access as we might think they are,” Barlow said. “This is just meant to frame poverty in the perspective for local community members.”

POCI president, Keli Keener, encouraged the poverty action group to invite business and community leaders to participate in the simulator.

“The people who are not working in this field and are decision makers need to attend,” Keener said. “Our city government needs to be there because it’s very impactful. I’m very excited about this, and I just want to make sure the right people are there.”

Lastly in Action Group reports, Bethany Street, chair of the Community Wellness Committee, stated that the group’s objective is to foster feelings of hope and connection in Ottawa County.

“We’ll address emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, social and spiritual aspects of wellness,” Street said. “We’re lucky because we have a poverty subgroup that is addressing the financial and occupational needs, too. Traci’s group will address our emotional needs.”

In Bright Futures reports, DeLano mentioned that the Miami organization attended a conference with Miami principals and the superintendent. Bright Futures Miami coordinators Megan Frazier and Heather Lillard received an award for volunteer coordinators. Bright Futures Miami is an affiliate of Bright Futures USA, a non-profit organization that helps the Miami School District to connect student needs with existing community resources.

In Wraparound updates, Street said that the Grand Lake Mental Health Center (GLMHC) will be providing a 14-week program called “Celebrating Families” that is open to the community.

The program will address the effects of substance abuse and moving past patterns. The Wraparound Service is an intensive home-based service for children and families who are at higher risk. For more information, contact GLMHC at 918-540-1511.

In event news, Northeastern Tribal Health System (NTHS) will be offering a Veterans Services and Benefit Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 21 in the center’s Education Room. Individuals are encouraged to bring a copy of their DD214/Separation Papers and 2016 Family Income information to apply for medical and compensation/pension benefits. Assistance will be available to complete VA required forms. For more information, contact Jennifer Wofford at 918-332-4360.

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services will be offering a one-hour suicide prevention program, QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer). This training gives warning signs to look for when an individual may be suicidal, and what to do if these signs are recognized. This program is provided through a federal suicide prevention grant. The program will be scheduled for April 13 directly after the next POCI meeting and everyone is welcome to attend.

In other news, Keener announced that she will be resigning as president of the coalition and currently seeking members to appoint for the new position. The coalition approved her resignation.

POCI will meet at noon on April 13 in the Courthouse Annex Community Room for its next meeting.