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Friday event to raise awareness of child abuse in Carroll County

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April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, and at Champions for a Drug Free Carroll County we see the unfortunate connection between substance abuse and child abuse. According to The National Council of Child Abuse and Family Violence, “Substance abuse exists in 40 to 80 percent of families in which the children are victims of abuse.”

To bring awareness and spread knowledge on this issue, Champions for a Drug Free Carroll County sponsors the annual Carrollton Child Abuse Prevention Event every April.

This year the big event will be held Friday, April 26, from 6-8:30 p.m. at the front entrance of General Butler State Resort Park, and the theme is “Make a Difference in a Child’s Life.”

Co-sponsors include Family Ties, 21st Century Lighthouse and Youth Services. As community partners, we have all worked very hard on this event to make sure it is a fun and educational experience for Carroll County citizens. The event will include free food, inflatables, a Family Time Entertainment magic show, a guest speaker to share her personal story involving child abuse, door prizes and free resources on child abuse and alcohol/substance abuse, as well as various community vendors. The following is the schedule of the evening’s events: 

6-7 p.m.: Free food, inflatables, proclamation from county representative, information booths, child safety ID fingerprinting with Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.

7-7:45 p.m.: Family Time Entertainment Magic Show

7:45 p.m.: Introduce/Inform Junior Champions

7:50 p.m.: Guest speaker: Kara Mellic 

8:15 p.m.: Closing ceremony, prayer, glow sticks, performance

8:30 p.m.: Door prizes

We want the community to be involved, show support and have fun. As the evening winds down, we need the community to stay for the duration and hear the guest speaker’s touching testimony of how she lost her beloved daughter to the hands of her abusive boyfriend. After the story, there will be a closing ceremony to show awareness for child abuse and to honor those who have fallen victim. This ceremony will include a blue glow stick vigil, a performance from Carroll County native Vanessa Birchfield and an invocation from Brother Chris White. Following the ceremony, door prizes will be given out and you must be present at 8:30 p.m. to win. 

To further spread awareness, Champions for a Drug Free Carroll County and fellow sponsors are selling “Pinwheels for Prevention” T-shirts now through the day of the event. They are only $10 and all proceeds will go toward the 2014 Child Abuse Awareness event. The story behind the pinwheels for prevention slogan correlates with the decorative pinwheels you may have noticed on the edge of a sign or two throughout the community (not all have been distributed). Each pinwheel represents the number of child abuse assessments and investigations in Carroll County last year. In 2012, this number was 266 — 207 neglect investigations and risk of harm; 44 physical abuse and risk of physical abuse; and 15 sexual abuse and risk of sexual abuse.

Champions also is spreading awareness with an abundance of community involvement. Many local businesses, churches and organizations have been a great attribute to this cause. Banks, restaurants and schools have agreed to display advertisements for the event on their marquees. Vendors compiled of organizations, clubs, churches and businesses throughout the community have offered to volunteer their time and give more information on the services they have available for citizens. Local grocery stores also have reached out to help. Kroger and Save-a-Lot let us place a flyer and a child abuse prevention bookmarker in each customer’s bag - look for one on your next trip. 

Champions sent 32 individual letters to churches throughout the community asking for their participation in “Blue Sunday” and the event itself. Blue Sunday, held April 28, is recognized as a day of prayer, not only in the churches but also in the community as a whole. This is the day churches take a moment to pray for the victims of child abuse and for those who rescue them. This also is a day recognized for all community members and citizens to wear blue, the official child abuse awareness/prevention color. Family Ties also composed church bulletins that you may find in your next church announcement as well.

As you can see, many of us are doing our part in preventing and bringing awareness to child abuse and the dangers that correlate from substance abuse as well. We can’t do it alone; we need to stand strong as a community and truly make a difference in a child’s life.

“Children whose parents abuse alcohol and other drugs are three times more likely to be abused and more than four times more likely to be neglected than children from non-abusing families,” The National Council of Child Abuse and Family Violence reports. Parents’ abuse of alcohol and other drugs can lead to a cycle of addiction, which is reflected by high rates of alcoholism and other substance abuse among children of addicts. Substance abuse among youth leads to a domino effect of problems in school, involvement in juvenile justice, teen pregnancy, and mental and emotional turmoil.

By focusing on prevention programs for youth, the cycle can be broken; together we can truly make a difference.

We hope to see you at the annual Child Abuse Awareness event from 6-8:30 p.m. on April 26 at the front entrance of General Butler State Resort Park; it will be a great family event that you don’t want to miss. Also, participate in “Blue Sunday” and say a little prayer or wear your favorite shade of blue.

If you’d like to purchase a shirt to wear to the event, please call Champions at (502) 732-8304 or if you’d like to volunteer, become a vendor or have any questions.

 

Hayley Franklin is coordinator of Champions for a Drug Free Carroll County.