Dozens of people got dressed up in their exercise gear for a special fitness event at a southwest Calgary school that also had the goal to raise awareness about domestic violence.

North Point School for Boys may not be the first place that many think of for an aerobics class, but organizers of Gems for Gems, a non-profit agency devoted to ending the cycle of domestic violence, says the crisis affects everyone.

“Domestic abuse doesn’t know any barriers,” says Jordan Guildford with Gems for Gems. “It affects everybody and its a sadly unifying cause.”

One participant of the event, whose family was touched by domestic violence this spring, says more communication is needed about these issues.

Racha El-Dib’s sister Nadia was stabbed and then shot to death by her ex-boyfriend Adam Bettahar in March.

She says that attending events to support domestic violence prevention help to keep her sister’s memory alive.

“We felt so much better, sharing her story and not letting her die in vain and just letting people know she died fighting.”

As well, Racha says that she wants Alberta’s education system to adopt into its curicculum more teaching about appropriate relationships so that no one else has to experience Nadia’s fate.

The fitness event was put together via a partnership with High Fitness and Amber Zenith, the founder, says a scholarship has been created to help educate women to become financially independent, a first for Gems for Gems as it expands its program offerings.

The scholarship was created in memory of Nadia El-Dib and is open to all women who are staying in shelters in Calgary.

Racha is glad to know that her sister’s memory will remain alive.

“When I told my parents about this scholarship, they were so ecstatic to keep telling Nadia’s story, knowing we are helping and this is causing a ripple effect.”

The event ended up raising $8,500 for the scholarship fund.

(With files from Stephanie Wiebe)