By Josh Presley
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month and local businesses, homes and cars are sporting blue ribbons in honor of children who have suffered abuse.
Sally Kate Winters Child Services Outreach Coordinator Heather Usry said the theme of this year’s awareness month is “Look, Listen, Respond.”
“We’ve been hanging blue ribbons on businesses and doors to spread awareness and get people asking questions,” Usry said. “Blue was chosen as the color for the ribbons because it represents the bruises that a victim may suffer.”
As part of Child Abuse Prevention Month SKW hosted its fifth annual Spring Into Action 5K and Family Fun Run on Saturday and will host a Child Abuse Prevention parade at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at Sally Kate Winters Park in West Point.
Usry said that SKW has been doing the parade for 13 years and it involves local elementary schools and day cares, as well as businesses and volunteers.
“It’s a cute way to get kids involved and give them a little bit of empowerment,” Usry said. “The parade gives them a voice so they can feel like they’re helping and doing something important.”
Usry said the kids will line up at 9 a.m. in front of the West Point/Clay County Growth Alliance on Broad Street going down Commerce Street to Main Street and ending on East Street making a block around Sally Kate Winters Park.
“The kids make signs and we hope that the ones that come to the Fun Run Saturday will wear their Fun Run T-shirts,” she said.
Usry said the West Point and Columbus Police Departments are showing their support for Child Abuse Prevention Month by putting small blue ribbons on their police cars, as well.
West Point Police Chief Tim Brinkley said that arriving at a scene and discovering that a child has been abused is one of the most difficult things for a police officer.
“It’s one of the things that really affects us emotionally,” Brinkley said. “I don’t think there is a type of family dysfunction more devastating than child abuse.”
Brinkley said that residents need to be aware that child abuse is not as uncommon as people think.
“We need the community to be able to spot the warning signs and to let the police know,” he said.
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