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The walk, which last year raised a record $37,096, will get underway at 9 a.m. Friday at Stone Bridge Park in Fayetteville.
“We are so thankful to the community for their support,” Heather Warden, director of Junior’s House, said, noting last year’s record donations. “In a county with 32,000 residents, that’s more than a dollar per resident donated to help change an entire generation. The community is invested in helping our next generation be stronger and better — that speaks loudly for what Fayetteville-Lincoln County is all about.”
Nationally, April is known as Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month. Blue Ribbons will be hanging all over town to remind us of the harmful affects of child abuse. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, 3.6 million child abuse investigations occur annually in our Country. Of those investigations, one fifth of the children (750,000) are found to be victims of severe abuse like sexual or physical abuse. One of four girls and one of six boys will be victims of sexual abuse before they reach the age of 18.
Last year, there were over 1,500 reports of child abuse or neglect in the 17th Judicial District, comprised of Lincoln, Marshall, Moore, and Bedford counties, the service area for Junior’s House. Over five hundred of these children received free services from Junior’s House, according to Warden.
Proceeds from the Blue Ribbon Walk will be used for therapists to provide free counseling to children who are victims of violent crime, Warden explained.
Junior’s House also has programs in place to educate the public on how to prevent child sexual abuse from occurring at all. In the United States, reported cases of child sexual abuse represent the second most expensive victim crime behind murder, costing the country $35 billion annually. A program made available to Junior’s House through a grant, Darkness to Light Stewards of Children, offers prevention training for adults who are responsible for the welfare of children.
Stewards of Children is the only nationally available program scientifically proven to increase knowledge, improve attitudes and change child-protective behaviors. This revolutionary program is for any responsible adult who cares about the welfare of children. It is also appropriate for youth-serving organizations such as sports leagues, day care centers, after school programs, children’s clubs, church groups and more.
Junior’s House is also focused on educating responsible adults about at-risk children who are often victimized more than once.
“An increase in the number of children who are victimized once being victimized again has been recognized,” Warden said, noting the formation of the Second Look Commission to address those concerns.
“The Second Look Commission has been formed to try to understand what we can do differently to ensure children are not abused again.”
The Second Look Commission consists of an independent panel of experts, together with lawmakers and citizens, with the legal authority to closely examine cases of children who were victimized twice due to the system’s failure to protect, to find out what went wrong, and how it can be prevented in the future.
On the local front, Junior’s House is in the process of developing a Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program to serve Lincoln and Marshall counties. This program allows for volunteers appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused children in the courtroom and other settings.
Junior’s House needs your help to continue its important mission. You can make a huge difference in the life of child by joining in as a walker in Friday’s Blue Ribbon Walk. Call Junior’s House at 438-3233 to sign up for the walk and receive a T-shirt and goody bag. Junior’s House accepts donations and walkers at any time, including the day of the Walk. If you are not interested in walking but would like to support the child advocacy center, you may donate at any time.
The grand marshals for this year’s walk are State Sen. Jim Tracy and State Rep. Pat Marsh. John Karby-Edward Jones is the presenting sponsor for the Blue Ribbon Walk. Platinum sponsors are Mimosa Church of Christ, HM Management Co., Inc., and ARP Women’s Ministries. Gold sponsors are Carter’s Drug Store, Dr. Todd McAdams, DDS, Hope Assembly of God, Lincoln County Health System, First Presbyterian Women, Walmart and WEKR/WYTM.
Silver sponsors are Sabghi’s Jewelers, Bank of Lincoln County, District Attorney Robert Carter, Brooke and Amy Grubb, Exchange 931.com, First United Methodist Church, Redstone Federal Credit Union, Landers-McClarty Toyota, Dixie Smith Insurance, Ottley Family Dental, Higgins Funeral Home, Elk Valley Crafters, Howell CP Church, Kiwanis Club, Rock Family Worship Center, Walgreens and N’Designs.
If you have any questions about the walk or how to schedule a Stewards of Children presentation for your group, please call Heather Warden at 438-3233.