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NBC 29: ‘Walk In My Shoes Closet’ Raises Gender and Empathy Awareness

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) – A trio in Charlottesville is trying to raise awareness about gender and empathy through a unique experience.

The Walk In My Shoes Closet aims to bring people face-to-face with those who have a different story to tell.  The group has worked on the project for more than a year and a halfand now wants the community to embrace the immersive experience.

Kelley Van Dilla, Micah Kessel, and Adrienne Dent make the The Playground of Empathygroup. Their mission is to spread empathy through a 3D experience in a giant shoe.

In the Walk in my Shoes Closet, people go in the giant shoe, dress in a different gender’s clothing, and hear personal stories, both happy and sad.

“We’re trying to bridge the gap between the people such as myself,” Van Dilla said. “I identify as non-binary and other people who [do] may not feel like they have access or understanding to start a conversation.”

The group hopes to raise about $10,000 to expand and tackle topics like sadness, happiness, laughter, and racial bias.

“By understanding their stories through your experiences and combining those, you get into a deeper picture of what it means to be a different gender,” Kessel said.

The Playground of Empathy is having an open house on Friday at The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative in Charlottesville at 7 p.m. They will have a raffle to raise money, but they also have a donation page.