Guest blogger: Virginia Wietecha
Imagine being eight years old again. Remember how learning to ride a bike or playing for hours in the sunshine felt free and adventurous? This is how I remember being eight years old. However, many kids do not have the same memories. In fact, in the U.S. alone, a child abuse report is made every ten seconds. Child abuse affects more than 6 million children a year.
When I hear these statistics, it makes me go back to my eight-year-old self, and put myself in those shoes for a second. First, the child undergoesabuse. Second, a report is filed. Third, the child is plucked from everything familiar and placed in a strange environment.
Can you picture standing in a new facility surrounded by total strangers all around you, perhaps clutching the small bag of items you brought from home? Now imagine trying to enjoy summer vacation or start school in the fall. Burdened by stress, emotional turmoil and instability, kids in these situations risk falling, and staying, permanently behind their peers.
Not every story needs to end like this, however. Many organizations, like the Children’s Advocacy Center of Benton County, step in during these pivotal moments to provide stability, care, support and resources. Their missions are to empower children to find their voice and to ensure that children are not further victimized by the systems intended to protect them.
That is why I am excited to be taking part in the Champions for Kids Summer Strong campaign. While I am not a nurse, forensic interviewer or counselor, I can still do my part to help victims of child abuse in my county by providing essential items to help kids stay strong during the summer. Maybe the purchased clothing, personal care items, games and movies for the kids will bring a small smile to an eight-year-old who is trying to find a new life — one that is safe, loving and secure.
Join me and the Champions for Kids staff as we strive to support the efforts of organizations and schools around the country, and see how your service project could help you win $10,000 for a school or youth-based organization of your choice!
Virginia resides in Northwest Arkansas with her husband and two daughters.