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Prevent Child Abuse Rowan marks Prevent Child Abuse Month with education, awareness

By Susan Shinn Turner

For the Salisbury Post

On these beautiful spring days, you might have spied blue and silver pinwheels glinting in the afternoon sun as you have made your way about Salisbury.

Those pinwheels are the symbol of Prevent Child Abuse Rowan, and April was National Prevent Child Abuse Month. To that end, the agency was busy with activities meant to promote education and awareness to help end child abuse.

Like other agencies statewide, Prevent Child Abuse Rowan sold the pinwheel kits.

“It was really more for awareness than a fundraiser,” said Beth McKeithan, the agency’s executive director.

The kits included a sign that said “Planting Hope.” Small kits with 10 pinwheels and large kits with 20 pinwheels popped up in yards all over town, McKeithan said.

“That was a huge success.”

The kits are still available for purchase.

Also in April, Prevent Child Abuse Rowan banners were hung at main intersections in downtown Salisbury.

A Super Hero Fun Run drew about 150 youngsters to the track at Catawba College on April 28. Every child who participated received a superhero cape. There were snacks, face painting, tile making for the Terrie Hess House, an inflatable obstacle course and snow cones from The Chill.

Sheriff Kevin Auten drove the Salisbury Police Department’s ice cream truck.

Yes, you read that correctly.

“I thought that was really cool,” McKeithan said. “Both law enforcement agencies really care about children.”

Capping the month was the agency’s annual brunch on April 27 at Rowan Museum. In her remarks, McKeithan noted that the agency served 224 children in 2017.

The morning’s keynote speaker was Kevin Mulcahy, an assistant U.S. attorney in Detroit. McKeithan and her staff had heard him speak at a state conference and invited him to Salisbury.

At age 9, Mulcahy was sexually abused by his soccer coach. Now, he specializes in child exploitation crimes. Mulcahy spoke for 45 minutes, McKeithan said, and the audience sat in riveted silence.

McKeithan said each time he shares his story, it plays a role in his healing.

Awards that were presented included:

• Community Organization Award: Rowan-Salisbury Schools.

• Volunteer Award: Gregg and Jenn Williams.

• Kathleen Russo Friend of a Child Award: Erin Messmer.

• President’s Award: Prevent Child Abuse Rowan staff.

McKeithan also talked about one child who had disclosed abuse after a school presentation by an agency staff member. She had a medical exam and a forensic interview at the Terrie Hess House. Then she received free therapeutic services, which included trauma focused therapy.

Her mother had this to say after her child completed therapy: “I wanted to let you know again how much our child and I appreciate the love showered on us during the most difficult time she has faced so far in her life. I am forever grateful for your hearts and how God uses your talents to help so many through living horrors. I can’t begin to explain the emotions we had with each and every thing y’all did for us, emotionally and physically.

“I remember our child getting gifts for Christmas that made me cry for days after seeing her smile sincerely for the first time in months. The gratitude displayed through you from this community is outstanding.”

For more information about Prevent Child Abuse Rowan, visit preventchildabusenc.org or call 704-639-1700.

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