• Mayor Jack Graham signed a proclamation from the Young County Child Welfare Board on Tuesday declaring April as Child Abuse Prevention and Go Blue month in Graham. With nearly 200,000 children in Texas reported as abused or neglected every year, this awareness in the community can promote efforts that benefit children and their families in Graham. Shown from l-r at top, are Jill Casey, Geri Hutson and Trish Remington. In the middle from l-r, are Carol Young, Debbie Key, Desirae Bouncher, Diane Martin, Nancy Dunlap and Isabel Smith. In front from l-r, are Jack Graham, Natalie Husen and Young County Judge John Bullock. (Leader photo by Thomas Wallner)

‘Child Abuse Awareness Month’ shares its message

Every year blue ribbons are placed both down Elm Street and on the square, and the ribbons share a message of awareness of child abuse within the community.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and the ribbons symbolize children who have been abused, neglected or have died from child abuse. Virginia’s House, a children’s advocacy center in Graham, wraps the ribbons around trees in town in order to raise awareness during the month of April.

“All of us that work at Virginia’s House can’t be everywhere so we need everyone in the community to have their eyes and their ears and their hearts open to what is going with the children around them,” Virginia’s House Executive Director Trish Remington said. “They may be related to them, they may be strangers to them, but everyone needs to be aware of what is going on with children.”

History

In 1989, Bonnie Finney, was a grandmother in Virginia who was mourning the death of her grandchildren by their mother. She chose to raise awareness with the blue ribbons and her story captured many children’s advocates around the nation causing them to pick up the tradition of the blue ribbon in order to spread awareness.

Virginia’s House is a children’s advocacy center that started out in Graham more than 20 years ago as the Young County Family Resource Center. It is dedicated to the protection and healing of child abuse victims. The organization offers programs for volunteers and sub-organizations to help assist with children in the community.

Within almost two months from February to March in just Young County Virginia’s House had 18 forensic interviews with children affected by crimes, 77 children receiving services (forensic interview, referral for counseling, follow up phone calls, etc.), 17 kids in the care of CPS with a appointed CASA volunteer.  

“A lot of people I think, tend to think that child abuse happens somewhere else. We always want it to not be in our community, but it is in our community and so I think it is important for all of use to be aware,” Remington said.

Awareness efforts

Along with the ribbons around town Virginia’s House spreads awareness in April through four events in Graham.

Denim Days is a drive to raise money for the Child Advocacy Centers in Graham and Breckenridge and allows employees to make a $5 a day donation to wear denim for their workplace. The blue color of the jeans symbolizes the national ribbon and helps to raise awareness in the month of April.

Go Blue Day on April 19 on the Graham downtown square is run alongside the Week of the Young Child activities and is in support of the children in the community of Young County.

The organization will supply child abuse awareness bracelets in April to all kids in pre-K through fifth grade at Graham ISD and Breckenridge ISD.

The bracelets will have the five body safety rules for children along with a phone number to report abuse.  

Blue Sunday is the last awareness effort on April 29 where Virginia’s House gives blue ribbons to every church in Graham that chooses to participate and the churches distribute them along with the story of the blue ribbon to their congregation.

Community effort

The Young County Child Welfare Board also plays a hand in the efforts in April to put forth awareness.

The board submits proclamations to Mayor Jack Graham and Young County Judge John Bullock declaring April as a Child Abuse Prevention Month in the city and the county.

The board also has a program called the Heart Gallery that will be displayed in Interbank, Ciera Bank and the Young County Courthouse on April 10-20. The Heart Gallery is portraits of foster children awaiting adoption that’s designed to increase the number of adoptive families for children needing homes in the community.

Week of the Young Child

The Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration in Graham that honors early education teachers and families and the work they do for students and Go Blue Day, run alongside WOYC, is a day where Virginia’s House encourages all to wear blue to spread their awareness efforts.

Both events will be on the Graham downtown square April 19 starting at 9 a.m.

A children’s parade will be held with early educators inside the square with the lineup at the north side of the Young County Courthouse starting at 10 a.m. Activities of all sorts will also be held for children on the square before the parade and free cookies and drinks will be provided by United Supermarkets and Sonic.

The program’s start in Graham goes back to Marjorie Norris, who started the daycare center Under the Rainbow in 1983 in Graham and sold it to Stephen Stuesser of Austin in 1990.

He became involved in NAEYC, and his staff managers, Ramona Townley and Judy Blair, ran with the idea and a small version of Week of the Young Child event blossomed for the Graham community.

The at-home daily events for WOYC are:

• Salute Sunday, which encourages students to write a thank you note to their care provider.
• Music Monday, which encourages parents to sing, dance, and learn with their child.
• Food Tuesday, which encourages parents to pick a family favorite recipe and cook it with their children.
• Work Together Wednesday, which encourages parents to build something with their child.
• Family Friday, which encourages parent to share their family stories with their children.
• And, Safety Saturday which encourages parents to talk with their children about the outdoor safety, stranger safety and how to create a safe home.

The Graham Leader

GRAHAM OFFICE

620 Oak Street

P.O. Box 600

Graham, Texas 76450
Phone: (940) 549-7800

Fax: (940) 549-4364