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Community celebrates Sierah Joughin's birthday and pushes for more change

Justice for Sierah is working to create and add self-defense and self-awareness classes to the curriculum in Ohio schools.

PERRYSBURG, Ohio — Sierah Joughin was tragically killed back in July 2016. 

Family and friends joined other community members on Saturday night in celebrating Sierah's birthday.

Sierah's Birthday Soirée, held at the Hilton Garden Inn at Levis Commons in Perrysburg, looked to raise money for Justice for Sierah and its mission to further protect kids and teens.

Joughin would have turned 24 this year. Her family, friends and community members came out to honor her life and the change she has inspired.

"She was very social," Sierah's mom Sheila Vaculik said. "She loved getting together with family and friends. She loved having a party, so she liked to dress up too so this is right up her alley."

Sierah's murder led to a law that created a database in Ohio for law enforcement and the public to know where violent offenders live.

"I did not want Sierah to be remembered for the tragic way that she was taken from us," Sierah's aunt and founder of Justice for Sierah Tara Ice said, "but for the amazing things that her life has brought."

The group now has a new goal in mind to help protect future youth. Ice said they're pushing to expand databases to other states, but they're also pushing for more education to protect kids.

"We need to empower and give our young people the tools that they need to protect themselves," Vaculik said, "and to be more aware of their surroundings."

"All the support here tonight is a direct investment in getting this into the schools," Ice added, "so every child is empowered with those tools."

The group is working with several local school districts and the state to implement self-defense and awareness classes into the curriculum. Many school leaders, some in attendance at the event, are taking notice.

"This is something that would be implemented kind of full out with multiple grade levels," Ottawa Hills Schools Superintendent Adam Fineske said, "so kids can learn appropriately about self-defense and how to take care of themselves."

The event hopes to reach its goal of $40,000 to help support plans to create those classes in schools. Ice said Sierah's life is now making a difference.

"Exhilarating to know that she's changed people's lives and she's going to protect people," she said.

Ice hopes to start pilot programs for local districts in the near future.

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