Blue walk brings community members together

Published 4:45 pm Thursday, June 23, 2016

Several community officials and residents came together last week for the Franklin City Goes Blue Walk, put on by the local branch of the department of social services.

“This was our second time having the Franklin City Goes Blue Walk around the community, and we are hoping that in future years we will be able to spread the word even further through the community partners and citizens of Franklin to have an even bigger turnout,” said Jennifer McReynolds, family services specialist.

The original date for the event was in April, but the department had to reschedule the walk due to the weather.

“The weather, unfortunately, didn’t cooperate with us for our first date, so getting a rain date scheduled quicker so that we don’t lose any interest is a definite must in the future as well,” she added.

Part of this annual event includes holding a t-shirt contest at the schools.

“We continue to have our ‘No Excuse for Child Abuse’ T-shirt contest at the schools so that the children in the community can be a part of designing our Child Abuse Prevention shirt. We have found that this gets the community involved, and in turn, helps spread the word about Child Abuse Prevention,” McReynolds continued. “This definitely works for us, and we plan on doing this for next year, as well. The school faculty, especially the art teachers, express a lot of pride in their students winning this contest, and seeing the surprise on a student’s face when presented with a shirt with his/her design on it is very exciting for us.”

Although the department hopes to have more community sponsors and involvement in the future for this walk, they said the sponsors they already have continue to help them tremendously.

“We are fortunate to have made some strong partnerships with Smithfield Foods, the Norfolk Tides, the Norfolk Admirals and many other organizations in surrounding areas,” she said. “This has helped us to minimize our upfront costs, and maximize the funds that we are able to place right back into our Child Abuse Prevention Fund for the City of Franklin.”

McReynolds said raising awareness for child abuse prevent is extremely important because of how prevalent it is. She noted that in Virginia, a child is abused or neglected every 80 minutes, and every 8 days a child dies from abuse or neglect.

“From July 2014 to June 2015, there were 49,868 cases of Child Abuse or Neglect reported throughout Virginia, with 33,809 leading to a Family Assessment of needs, and 6,592 having enough evidence to be listed as Founded,” McReynolds continued. “Child abuse is not usually just one physical attack or just one instance of failure to meet a child’s most basic needs. Usually child abuse is a pattern of behavior which takes place over a period of time. The longer child abuse continued, the more serious it becomes, and the more difficult it is to help.”

She added that child abuse and neglect can be prevented by teaching others about the warning signs and how to recognize them. Some things to look out for are parents under chronic stress, children exhibiting negative and anxious behaviors and signs of physical abuse. If someone suspects a child is suffering from abuse or neglect, it should be reported to the local social services department.

“We greatly appreciate the community working with us, supporting us and helping us Prevent Child Abuse in our Franklin City community,” McReynolds said. “We don’t have any upcoming child abuse prevent events at this time, but we are always working on coming up with new ideas for fundraising.”