Radford University students help local sexual assault survivors

RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ) -- The stuffed bears set out on display at Radford University Wednesday were more than just toys.

For survivors of sexual violence, they represented strength.

"Going to the hospital, going to the women's resource center, those are very difficult things for survivors to do, and it's very great for them to have some comfort and some things to take away from that," said Julie Dill, the university's assistant director of its substance abuse and violence education support services.

The bears are just one aspect of the recovery kits assembled by Radford students at the "Hour 2 Empower" celebration.

It's the fourth year in a row Radford has hosted one of these events, which are put together by an organization called "Fear 2 Freedom" on college campuses around the nation.

"Hearing about all the stories and the individuals that don't come out against sexual assault issues, I think it's important for all of us to get together and really unite and take a stand against sexual assault," said Student Government Association Vice President Cody Hartley.

Students made hand-written notes for survivors before putting together the kits that were then transported to both the Carilion New River Valley Medical Center and the Radford Women's Resource Center.

"Being able to do something concrete, they really enjoy that," Dill said. "The education part of it is great, but they like to be able to be hands-on and know they're going to help at least one person."

With a turnout of roughly 400 students, the now annual tradition was a show of solidarity from all corners of campus.

"The student body just loves to get together on really important issues, and sexual assault is something that's happening on all college campuses, and we want to get everybody together to keep this issue high," Hartley said.