Girlfriendism H.O.P.E., the nonprofit branch of the Girlfriendism campaign, hosted the second annual #DanceForHOPEVI initiative on Saturday at the Beeston Hill Health and Wellness Center in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

H.O.P.E., which stands for Helping Ordinary People Everyday to be extraordinary through the arts and creative expression, was founded by members of the Simmonds family on St. Croix and is led by Khnuma Simmonds, director and founder of Girlfriendism.

Although the group offered only 20 spaces due to COVID, more than 45 individuals of various ages, ethnicity and backgrounds arrived wearing purple to raise awareness on domestic violence through dance.

“This turnout speaks volumes in regards to the community support that exists for survivors and the need for programming that promotes the arts — particularly music and dance — as an avenue for individual and collective healing,” said Simmonds. “As a survivor and advocate, it was a joy to celebrate my birthday in community for a cause that continues to affect our community and to do so with intention — from specific music and movements to positive affirmations as a collective. Despite what we’ve all experienced directly or indirectly, each participant still found it within themselves to hold space for hope and healing for survivors and our community at large.”

The initiative, which was live streamed via Facebook from multiple pages, including that of Beeston Hill Health and Wellness, which provided the space, and SoKh Caribbean Dance Fitness, which hosted the dance class, has reached over 1,000 views collectively and continues to reach the community and raise awareness even beyond October, the internationally designated month for domestic violence awareness. A compilation video of the event was released, including words of hope from #DanceForHOPEVI participants and survivors of domestic violence. To view the video, visit https://youtu.be/85MOkHaeqn0.