250 pairs of children’s shoes mark lives forever changed

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, April 19, 2023

SALISBURY – People don’t talk about child abuse.

Whether it’s because it frightens or sickens them, or because talking about it makes it seem too real, people generally don’t talk about the abuse of our most innocent, unless it ends up in extreme violence or, worst of all, murder.

But it is, according to experts, worthy of discussion, of acknowledgment, and of taking action.

To help bring some of the needed attention to the growing rise in child abuse across Rowan County, Terrie Hess Child Advocacy Center (CAC) is shining a light on these cases with an art installation this week.

Starting Sunday, April 16, and running through April 21, 250 pairs of children’s shoes are displayed on the lawn of the Rowan Museum on Main Street, next to the Rowan County Superior Court. Each pair of shoes represents a child abuse
case that Terrie Hess CAC has identified, investigated, prosecuted, and treated during 2022.

“Seeing this visual is key to raising awareness to this growing concern,” said Shawn Edman, Executive Director of
Terrie Hess CAC. “With a 76 percent increase in just one year, it is important now, more than ever, that we raise
awareness and bring the community together to affect change to protect our most vulnerable population, our

And Terrie Hess CAC is not the only place there has been an increase. According to a report presented to the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, there has been an increase in cases that have come before the state Department of of Social Services or DSS. The estimated population for Rowan County in 2021 according to the United States Census Bureau was 148,150. Children make up approximately 21.9 percent of the population. From January through December in 2022, DSS received 2685 child protective services reports and completed assessments on 1,818 cases. Most of these reports alleged neglect. The number of reports is trending slightly upward, with nine more reports in 2022 than there were in 2021.

Terrie Hess CAC is one of several organizations that work on the issue of child abuse, and has been open and working to help children and families since March 2005. The center is named in memory of Terrie Spencer Hess, who was a local guardian ad-litem instrumental in getting the center off the ground before her death. The CAC is based upon a nationally recognized model for responding to allegations of child physical and sexual abuse. The CAC was accredited by the National Children’s Alliance in 2012 as a best-practice model for child advocacy centers. Terrie Hess CAC’s goal continues to be the prevention of child abuse, and two specific programs help achieve that. In 2014, the CAC started the Stop-Go-Tell program, which provides in-school, educational sessions for first- and fifth-graders to teach them how to avoid abuse. In 2016, the CAC began to provide parenting education to help caregivers be more calm, consistent, and supportive, and to learn ways to help keep their children safe.

Edman said Local artist Shanna Glawson is coordinating installation of the exhibit of the children’s shoes. She has a master’s in fine arts from ETSU where her thesis centered around trauma and hope. She is an artist, craftsman, maker, and promoter of the arts through education.

“I wanted to help the Terrie Hess Child Advocacy Center because I firmly believe in their cause,” said Glawson.
“As an artist, I enjoy creating healing art initiatives that work on a broader scope outside myself, by creating
community-based art projects. By creating this public art installation, I hope to raise awareness to these issues
and advocate for change and healing.”

Glawson has used her own past trauma in her art before. When she was completing her project for her Masters of Fine Arts,  “I used my diagnosis of PTSD as a catalyst to create art that discusses trauma and healing,” Glawson said. She pointed out that her hope for what people take from her art is twofold: others who have past or even current traumas can see they are not alone, that there are others who have been through pain in the past and healed, and for those who have never dealt with life-altering trauma, she hopes they develop some sympathy and some empathy for those who have, and become willing to help.

The Terrie Hess CAC serves all children aged birth to 17, regardless of their race, religion, gender, gender
identity, or socio-economic background. The organization offers a variety of free programs to support Rowan
County parents, guardians, child caregivers, and soon-to-be parents. Those wishing to get involved or donate can do so at www.terriehesscac.org/get-involved.