Terrie Hess Child Advocacy Center shares rebranding as ‘more positive’

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, July 13, 2022

SALISBURY — Terrie Hess Child Advocacy Center, formerly known as Prevent Child Abuse Rowan, has announced the organization is rebranding in an effort to bring a more positive angle to the center’s work with the Rowan community to educate on abuse prevention and support for children.

Executive Director Shawn Edman explained that the program has looked into changes since last year. Since the nonprofit receives accreditation from the National Children Alliance every five years, it was practical to make the change with the recent recertification.

“We wanted to prevent confusion since it seemed like the Terrie Hess House and Prevent Child Abuse Rowan were different things,” said Edman. “The organization has been through a lot of changes over the years and we wanted something more bright and whimsical. Terrie Hess Child Advocacy Center is a name easier to remember and more positive to say.”

Terrie Hess was a local guardian ad-litem and one of the founders of Prevent Child Abuse Rowan after the 1997 string of three deaths caused by child abuse. The center opened in 2000.

A team worked with Miller Davis in March to create a new logo that showcases a rainbow pinwheel with a heart and home in the center. How to rebrand the center came in May and, according to Edman, was done because the organization goes beyond child abuse prevention.

The nonprofit focuses on supporting children and their families, including providing toys, clothes and gas cards. Most are donated by members of the community via the “purple door” behind the yellow building. This entrance is also used by police officers and social workers to enter the facility without intimidating children who come for services.

Kids are welcomed into a relaxed atmosphere in the lobby of the center, where a basket of toiletries and snacks is out. They may choose to play with the assortment of toys and art supplies as they wait for treatment, which covers a range of evaluation processes to ensure each person has a thorough review.

According to Erin Moody, prevention and education coordinator, children are given a forensic interview, a health exam and a therapy session in one stop to help ease the stress of the investigation process. Additionally, individuals may choose to sculpt playdough and draw during the interviews for comfort, but these tools can also be used to answer questions, or they can use markers and paper. At the end of their evaluation, children pick out a fleece blanket to take home in addition to a free toy/activity from the cabinets in the hallway.

A special gift was donated to the center three years ago by certified dog trainer and behaviorist Nina Dix, who presented the facility with Murphey, a rescue from the Rowan County Animal Shelter. She worked with the therapy dog for a year to have him certified with the Canine Caregivers Therapy Dogs, N.C.

“He’s great to decompress with not only the children, but the workers who are either in the office or those who work with the center,” said Moody, who is now the caregiver of the THCAC therapy dog. She explained how Murphey was found with mud and excrement on his legs and a sun-bleached coat before being adopted. She said that his story is a bright light and shows children how he was able to be brought out of a bad situation.

Murphey now sprints up and down the halls of the nonprofit with his favorite tennis ball and lies at the feet of children while they are evaluated during their visit.

While the Terrie Hess Child Advocacy Center works to prevent and address child abuse, the education and awareness goes beyond the building on Woodson Street in Salisbury.

Multiple programs are offered by the organization, including presentations for schools and classes for new parents. A copyrighted “Stop-Go-Tell” works to combat child abuse by educating first through fifth grade students in the school system about what is inappropriate touching and who a safe adult to tell would be.

Moody explained that with most child abuse cases, the offender is someone close to the child, so it is someone they could not go to with their concerns. Additionally, not every child has a parent or guardian around. The program also teaches children what to do if they witness abuse.

The nonprofit offers three parenting programs for those who already have children and for those who are to be guardians. These classes show parents how to positively discipline, care for a new infant and establish relationships. All education is offered free, in addition to the therapy and investigation sessions at the facility.

“We’re always happy to help people learn,” Moody said. “The earlier we teach them, the earlier they can advocate for themselves.”

The Terrie Hess Child Advocacy Center is located at 130 Woodson St. in Salisbury. For more information, call 704-639-1700. The organization can also be found on Instagram and Facebook under the name Terrie Hess Child Advocacy Center.