Mt. Vernon Register-News

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March 29, 2014

Collaboration raises awareness

MT. VERNON — Raising awareness of child abuse is a year-round mission for area agencies.

Jennifer Witzel, coordinator of the One Hope United Foster Grandparents program said the Child Abuse Awareness Walk on April 3, is a culmination of activities.

“We are hoping to get a good turn out from the community and not just the social service agencies, but everybody coming out to show their support,” Witzel said.

Agencies involved in the fight against child abuse and the walk include The Amy Center, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Caritas Family Solutions, Lutheran Child and Family Services, One Hope United and the United Methodist Children’s Home.

“We are growing as a committee. It started out at as just three,” said Becky Whisenant, executive director of CASA.

On April 3, from noon to 1 p.m., the annual Child Abuse Prevention Walk will take place at the Jefferson County Courthouse. The purpose of the walk is to come together as a community and show support in the issue in child abuse.

Mayor Mary Jane Chesley will be in attendance to sign a proclamation for child abuse prevention as well.

Community participants are encouraged to wear blue the day of the event. Wearing blue caught on as the official child abuse prevention color in 1989, according to information from members of the walk committee.

Using the color blue for child abuse awareness began in Virginia, where Bonnie Finney, the grandmother of Michael Dickenson, tied a blue ribbon on the antenna of her car as a memorial to her three-year-old grandson. The preschooler was found dead after enduring abuse by his mother’s boyfriend.

Finney’s blue ribbon was intended to symbolize the black and blue bruises worn by her grandson.

Along with the color blue being represented walkers will be offered to carry a special craft made by the students at the Primary Center. The students made 100 boy and girl faces on a blue stick. The children were asked to help with the project by the One Hope United Foster Grandparents program.

Brand new blue kids cut outs were made and donated by Magnum Steel Works. Twelve cut outs in total were made by Jim Czerwinski.

Additional social service agencies are welcome to join the committee in the future.

For further information on how to get involved call Cassidy Beck, communications specialist at Caritas Family Solutions at 244-0344.

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