Special Event Ideas
In addition to securing official proclamations and scheduling
speeches and presentations, you also can organize special events
during National Crime Victims Rights Week and throughout the
year to educate the public about the rights and needs of crime victims.
To help with the planning process, we have assembled a list of possible
special event activities that you may hold within your own community.
Many of the suggested items come straight from victim advocates
across the country.
An essential element of any outreach campaign is to involve other
groups and individuals. Recruit external partners to have an even
greater impact and a broader reach. And, remember that encouraging
the participation of youth today can have an impact for years to
come. A number of the suggested activities below are specifically
targeted to young people.
Candlelight vigils are one of the most popular and inspirational
ways to honor victims of crime. Host your vigil at an easily accessible
site to get the most exposure and participation (e.g., front entrance
to the state capitol building, town hall, city park). Many communities
choose to hold these ceremonies outside of courthouses. Add something
unique and special to your vigil. During National Crime Victims
Rights Week, the Delaware County, Pennsylvania chapter of Parents
of Murdered Children released two dozen doves at a candlelight vigil
held in front of the courthouse.
Ribbon campaigns are an easy way to enable a large number of people
to show their support for victims rights. Pass out ribbons
at schools, shopping malls, courthouses, and your office. Red, white
and blue ribbons could be used to reinforce this years colors.
Host an art exhibit to raise public awareness about victims
rights. Invite victims of crime, survivors, or advocates to submit
pieces that reflect the weeks theme, Bringing Honor
to Victims, in the context of their personal experiences.
In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the YWCA hosted an art exhibit for Victims
Rights Week. The exhibit was entitled Take a Walk in My Shoes,
and it honored victims of crime and violence. The exhibit featured
artwork by survivors.
Create a quilt to honor crime victims. Invite staff, volunteers,
students, community members, crime victims, and their families to
decorate a patch. You may be able to get local arts and crafts store
to donate supplies. Find a visible spot for your exhibit, such as
the lobby of your local courthouse or police station. Commemorative
quilts provide the opportunity to portray the experiences of hundreds
of people in one creative display.
Victim Services Awards Ceremony
Take advantage of National Crime Victims Rights Week to
honor those who have dedicated their lives to serving victims of
crime. Hold a lunch or a dinner ceremony and present awards. Local
communities have recognized the police officer of the year, victim
advocate of the year, criminal justice professional of the year,
and/or volunteer of the year.
Resource and Education Fairs
Educate the public about victims rights by organizing a
resource fair. Choose an easily accessible public location, such
as a shopping mall or university student union. Last year, local
victim advocates in Albuquerque, New Mexico, celebrated Crime Victims
Rights Week by holding a resource fair at a shopping mall. Participating
organizations included the Sexual Assault Recovery Services, Rape
Crisis Center, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
Dedicate a local bench, monument, or building to victims of crime.
A Florida chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) dedicated
a park bench and tree to victims of drunk driving. In Riverside,
Ohio, a Victims Memorial Wishing Well was built in a local
park and dedicated to victims of crime. In Ware County, Georgia,
families of homicide victims dedicated a white marble bench and
stepping stones outside the courthouse to crime victims.
Clothesline projects are popular throughout the country. They
consist of different color tee shirts, each color representing a
different crime. Victims decorate these shirts in order to express
how they have been affected by crime. The shirts are then publicly
displayed on a clothesline. If there is a clothesline project in
your area, offer to display it for Crime Victims Rights Week.
If there is no clothesline project in your area, start one.
Victims Rights Walkathon
Sponsor a victims rights walkathon to raise money for local
victim service agencies. Encourage participants to register and
find sponsors. Invite local activists, elected officials, or musicians
to speak or perform during the event. In Richmond, Virginia, the
third annual victims rights walkathon was held this past year
and featured the states attorney general.
Voter Registration and Education
Will there be issues of importance to victims of crime in an upcoming
election? Conduct a voter registration drive and education campaign
to familiarize voters with the issues and to encourage them to go
to the polls. Invite the participation of the local chapter of the
League of Women Voters.
Victims Rights Rally
Empower crime victims and their supporters by holding a march
or rally. Hold a rally to lobby for a specific piece of legislation,
or one that focuses on a particular crime, such as Take Back the
Night. Take Back the Night rallies are held to empower victims of
A memorial garden is a living memorial to crime victims. Establish
or advocate for a memorial garden to murder victims in your community.
In Stark County, Ohio, victim advocates handed out seeds at a ceremony
during National Crime Victims Rights Week. Advocates encouraged
families and officials to plant flowers in memory of victims who
had lost their lives. In Modesto, California, families, friends,
and supporters of victims gathered to dedicate Stanilus Countys
Garden of Healing and Restoration to victims of crime. The garden,
still under development, features, among other things, a coastal
redwood tree dedicated to homicide victims. When completed, the
garden will also feature a waterfall and monument.
Tree of Life
Display a tree of life in your office. Construct the
trunk, branches and leaves of the tree from construction paper,
and place it on a wall in a visible location, such as your lobby.
Allow victims and families to place different colored ribbons on
the tree, representing different crimes. Alternatively, place ribbons
on a living tree.
Survivor Poetry Reading
Organize a poetry reading for advocates, families and survivors
of crime. Encourage participants to read their own poetry, or a
poem that they find especially meaningful. To create a cozy and
intimate atmosphere, find a local cafÈ or library at which
you can hold this event.
Create and distribute coasters with information about safety or
crime victims rights. In Riverside, California, victim advocates
distributed coasters with information on date rape drugs to local
Many businesses are willing to contribute a portion of their profits
to local non-profit organizations that serve the public interest.
Work with a local business, such as a book store, pizza parlor,
or coffee shop, to hold a fundraising night during which
the business will contribute a portion of their profits from that
night to your organization. Encourage the community to patronize
your sponsors business on fundraising night by distributing
flyers and contacting your local newspapers.
Especially for Kids
Poster or Poetry Contest
Encourage the creativity of kids while supporting victims of crime.
Work with local schools to organize a poster or poetry contest for
victims rights week. In Arapahoe County, Colorado, winning
posters were placed in a 2002 calendar and distributed for free
to the community.
Program for School or Youth Organizations
Host an educational program for a school or youth organization.
Perform skits, show videos, and hold discussions with classes. Discuss
victims rights and the impact of crime. Think about bringing
counselors. For National Crime Victims Rights Week last year,
the California Youth Authority put on several programs for kids
under its jurisdiction. They held a moment of silence, invited crime
victims to be guest speakers, sponsored a poster and essay contest,
held memorial services, and ran a fundraiser to support victim advocacy
Pledges Against Violence
Have teenagers sign pledges against violence. In Hillsboro, Oregon,
the Washington County Juvenile Justice Department participated in
the National Hands Are Not for Hurting Campaign. Local
teenagers traced their hands and added those tracings to a tree
displayed in the Justice Services Building. Adding their hands to
the tree symbolized their commitment to end violence.
Work with schools to encourage children and teenagers to become
active in their community. Hold presentations for middle school
and high school classes. Tell kids about the different services
provided by organizations in the community. Distribute educational
materials. Encourage teenagers to volunteer their time with a local
Go to high schools, youth organizations, and universities. Preview
clips of movies which feature crime victims. Discuss how the victims
are treated and portrayed in the movies, and how the movies compare
to real life. At the University of California, Davis, the Campus
Violence Prevention Program sponsored a movie night during Sexual
Assault Awareness Month in order to open a dialogue on campus.
|National Crime Victims'
Rights Week: Bringing Honor to Victims