April 17 2013
"I'm just this little Tosa kid doing this project for school. It's gotten way bigger than I imagined."
-McKenna Nerone, Senior at Wauwatosa East H.S.
McKenna Nerone needed to pick a community service project as part of the Honors Program at Tosa East High School. She was intrigued when her mom handed over a flyer about Denim Day, a sexual assault awareness campaign. Once she learned a few statistics and the origin of Denim Day, she was determined to make a difference.
"We need to start talking about this because nobody talks about this subject at all," says McKenna. "At school we learn a lot about how not to get pregnant or how to avoid aids. Nobody talks about how I have a 1 in 5 chance as a teenager of being raped."
McKenna figured out that, according to statistics, 1050 people become victims of sexual assault each week during the time she spends at school. She's collecting 1050 pairs of jeans in honor of Denim Day and putting them up into an art installation in a "secret location" in Wauwatosa. She's started a Facebook page which encouraged people to donate from across the U.S., and has enlisted everyone from students to store owners to the Tosa Fire Department to help collecting the jeans she needs by April 24th.
Once Demin Day is over, she will donate the jeans to Pathfinders, a non-profit that helps runaway teens and at-risk youth.
For her work on this project and bringing awareness of sexual assault to her peers, McKenna was selected to receive the WCASA (Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault) 2013 Voice of Courage Award for Community Advocacy. She will receive this award at a ceremony in Madison on April 27th after which she will participate in the "Wrap Around the Capitol Event".
Information on how you can help McKenna meet her goal is found at Denim Day Milwaukee on Facebook.