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April 30: Child Advocacy Center of Niagara co-hosts seventh annual Walk to End Child Abuse


Mon, Apr 15th 2024 11:15 am

In recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Child Advocacy Center of Niagara (CAC), a service of Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center (NFMMC), and Focus on Families, will co-host the seventh annual Walk to End Child Abuse. The event begins at 4:30 p.m. April 30 at the Hyde Park Ice Pavilion. It is free and open to the public, “emphasizing the critical need for child safety, prevention of child abuse, and the reduction of trauma within our community,” NFMMC stated.

A press release added, “This year's superhero-themed walk will feature appearances by real-life superheroes from the WNY Superheroes & Cosplayers, alongside engaging activities, giveaways, and children's crafts. The event will also include participation from Bikers Against Child Abuse, an interactive touch-a-truck program by the Niagara Falls Fire Department.”

Child Advocacy Center of Niagara Executive Director Shelley Hitzel said, "Child abuse is a pervasive problem that thrives in silence. Anyone in the community can be a hero to a child. We must be willing to learn the facts about child abuse and take action. As instances of abuse increase in severity and number, the need for community engagement and support has never been more urgent.”

NFMMC stated, “Nationally, one in seven children experience abuse or maltreatment, and every nine minutes, a child is sexually abused. In 2023, the Niagara County Department of Social Services investigated over 3,500 cases of child abuse and maltreatment. Meanwhile, the CAC provided services to over 600 children in our community, offering forensic interviews, therapeutic child abuse medical evaluations, evidence-based trauma-specific counseling, and victim advocacy services completely free of charge.

“In addition to direct services, the CAC provides Darkness to Light's Stewards of Children training, designed to educate adults on proactive steps to prevent child sexual abuse within organizations, families and communities. The program combines impactful videos with guided discussions, focusing on the empowerment skills of choice-making, risk-taking, and mutual support to protect children.”

Those interested in supporting the CAC or attending the Walk to End Child Abuse can call the CAC at 716-285-0045.

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