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A Walk Around the World to Promote Healthy Relationships

A group of women stand holding a OneLove banner before walking iin a Yards For Yeardley event.

According to the One Love Foundation, an organization whose mission is to end relationship abuse through educating young people about healthy and unhealthy relationship behaviors, one in three women and one in four men experience a violent relationship in their lifetime. To prevent these unhealthy relationships from forming, One Love employs the following simple strategies: teaching young people how they can love better and what healthy behaviors look like through conversation and community action.

Because SUNY shares One Love’s mission of ending relationship abuse and fostering healthy relationships, many of our campuses and their students supported “Yards for Yeardley” throughout the month of April through SUNY’s “Around the World for Yeardley” campaign. Each participating campus hosted an event to raise awareness and educate attendees on how to end relationship abuse, all while traveling yards to honor Yeardley Love and the cause.

Founded in 2010 to honor the memory of Yeardley Love, a college student who was abused and killed by her ex-boyfriend only weeks before her graduation, Yards for Yeardley aims to end relationship abuse, and ultimately, save lives. Last year, 10 participating SUNY Athletic Conference schools traveled over 25 million yards to raise support and awareness for the cause surrounding Yeardley’s unfortunate passing, and we raised the bar quite significantly for our 2018 campaign. This year, the goal for the 27 participating campuses was to travel the circumference of the Earth, roughly 43,825,760 yards.

Since we know how driven and dedicated the SUNY community is, we are very happy to report that students, faculty and staff, friends and family, and many others banded together to completely crush our goal.

After all events were completed, the SUNY system walked a total of 66,535,819 yards, surpassing our target by well over 20,000,000 yards.

To put the total yards walked into perspective, you could travel back and forth from Stony Brook University to Jamestown Community College 88 times!

In addition to impacting SUNY students and community members in person through direct participation in campus advocacy events, the program also reached a significant amount of individuals on social media. Participating campuses joined in on the social chatter to promote their events and educate their followers, and event attendees shared their experiences and support of Yards for Yeardley as well.

Prior to the kick-off of various Yards for Yeardley campus events in April, Chancellor Johnson shared her praise for our students and the impact they have: “SUNY ‘Yards for Yeardley’ campus events are driven by our students, which is a testament to their commitment to end relationship abuse and protect their fellow students and people in their local communities,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. “On behalf of the SUNY family, I am pleased to support this program, which is by far the largest of its kind in the nation, to help incite lasting change.”

We are so proud of our SUNY community for banding together and showing up for this important cause. Through each campus event, people learned about the risks of dating violence and how we can work together to prevent unhealthy relationships and abuse, whether it be in our own relationships or helping out a loved one. Most importantly, by having and promoting conversations about healthy relationships on campuses and in our communities, we are one step closer to achieving the ultimate goal of this campaign: an end to relationship abuse and inter-relationship violence.

You can relive all of the SUNY Yards for Yeardley events that took place in april by looking up #SUNYOneLove on twitter. Or just read the stream below:

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Written by Julie Maio

Julie is the assistant director for student mental health and wellness for SUNY System Administration.

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