By: KATELYN FIRESTEIN
An IU South Bend student is making her mark on the community as she accepted the position of board member to a new, local nonprofit. Brittin Thomas is an IU South Bend student who has already obtained a BA in Special Education and is currently enrolled as a Pre-Occupational Therapy major at IU South Bend. She is also an Emergency Department Technician at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, and is now a Board Member for I Will Run Free, which just officially received its nonprofit status this month.
I Will Run Free is an organization that was founded by Kacey Williams based out of the Michiana area. Williams is a runner who has faced many unsafe experiences, simply because she is a woman who wants to run. On the organization’s website, Williams tells the stories of men following her while she is running and needing to get a dog to protect herself. She founded I Will Run Free in hopes of bringing awareness to the issues of assault and violations of freedom.
The organization aims to help victims of assault, educate people on how to protect themselves – which includes free self-defense classes provided by the organization, and to host safe running and walking groups that require background checks.
Thomas works to maintain the social media and networking for the organization. As a student, she also explained her perspective on how this organization pertains to college students, especially at IU South Bend.
“IU South Bend is known for being inclusive and respectful of diversity, so a nonprofit that supports women and safety perfectly matches the inclusive attitude of the university community,” confirmed Thomas.
The organization will soon be offering free self-defense classes and on the website I Will Run Free offers a community blog to discuss safety measures and products that they recommend.
“I think it’s important to reiterate that the organization is not specifically about running. You do not have to be a runner to be involved in this movement. It started with a runner, but the end goal is to help any and every person who has ever felt unsafe or oppressed,” explained Thomas.
The next upcoming event thus far is a walk/run on June 8, 2019, though Thomas asserted that more plans for events will be planned soon. To learn more about the organization, visit iwillrunfree.org.