SHARP awareness begins with contest

Soldiers from Fort Campbell view the cakes on display Friday as part of the Sexual Assault Awareness Month opening ceremony at the Family Readiness Center. The cakes were part of a contest to promote SHARP awareness that aims to educate and reduce sexual assault across the nation.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month is commemorated across Department of Defense during April.

Fort Campbell’s Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention program began its month-long awareness campaign Friday with an opening ceremony and cake decorating contest at the Family Readiness Center March 31.

The staff of the 101st Airborne Division SHARP and Equal Opportunity office invited command groups of various units to attend and judge the SHARP-themed cakes that were prepared by different units.

Brigadier Gen. John Novalis, deputy commander for support of the 101st Airborne Division, said the SHARP program shows how important preventing sexual assault and harassment is to the Army.

“If we fail, I guarantee our Army won’t be as good tomorrow as it is today,” Novalis said.

Lieutenant Col. Wanda McLean, SHARP program manager, said sexual assault and harassment prevention takes a team effort to be successful, and April’s awareness campaign is important to that goal.

“I want to get to a point where the Army does not need a SHARP program,” McLean said. “I want to work myself out of a job, but I can’t do it by myself. It takes all of us, not just those of us who work in the SHARP program, but every human being. We know what right looks like.”

Sharon Travis, a prevention specialist with Nashville Sexual Assault Center, said seeing Soldiers, leaders and spouses encourages her that the Army is leading the charge against sexual assault and harassment.

“We can change the culture,” said Travis, who has more than 20 years of experience in the field. “Because culture changes all the time. We are what makes up the culture. There may be some differences in how we reach out based on some cultures, but we are a culture that can change and [bring] this issue [to the forefront].”

The opening ceremony ended with the recitation of the SHARP pledge and the cake judging, with the 101st Division Artillery’s “Watch Your Drink” cake taking first place.

Friday’s event is the first in a list of events in April that will be hosted by the 101st Airborne Division’s SHARP Program including Coffee with the Community on April 12, Soldier Run-Play on April 19, Color Run on April 21, and a closing ceremony April 28 followed by a motorcycle ride.