A blue ribbon logo used to advertise Million March Against Child Abuse, signifying child abuse awareness.
The Vader City Council has passed a motion declaring April as Child Abuse Awareness Month, with plans being developed to create a related memorial in the near future at a city park.
Approved during the council's March 12 meeting, the motion had been suggested by local resident Ruth Crear, who works often with abuse victims as an advocate for foster children in Lewis County, and has personally been impacted by the affects of child abuse.
Crear told the council of her granddaughter who, at four months old, was severely shaken by her mother's ex-boyfriend a little more than a year ago and suffered serious injuries.
"She was a healthy, vibrant little girl," said Crear. "That little girl can no longer see, she can't hear, and she has severe brain damage... [The assailant] got three years. That's not enough. She got a lifetime. They're telling us that she might not make it to 12 years old."
Crear said, nationally, more than 8,000 children are the victims of abuse every day, and around five of them will not survive. She added nine individuals are currently in the Lewis County Jail on charges of abusing, murdering or raping a child, and local communities need to be aware of how child abuse can affect everyone.
"That could be your grandchild, your child, your neighbor," she said of potential victims, stating a community has to be vigilant in protecting its young ones. "If you feel like somebody's being abused--even if it turns out to be nothing--make that call. You could save that child's life."
With the passage of the motion, the council acknowledged the significant impact child abuse has on communities as a whole, while also agreeing to have blue ribbons placed around town to signify the importance of child abuse awareness.
Crear also asked the council if the city would be interested in setting aside a small section of one of the parks in town to plant a flower bed to memorialize Jasper Henderling-Warner, a local three-year-old boy killed by chronic physical abuse on Oct. 5 of last year.
"That child belongs to us, in my eyes," said Crear of Henderling-Warner, whose death strongly impacted area residents and led to the arrest of his guardians, Brenda and Danny Wing, on charges of homicide by abuse.
Mayor Ken Smith advised Crear to contact the Park Board to begin making such arrangements, which Crear said she would be glad to do. Members of the council also approved the idea for such a memorial in their motion.
While speaking to officials, Crear also informed them of an opportunity extended to all area residents to show support for child abuse awareness through a demonstration planned for next month in Olympia.
Million March Against Child Abuse, originally organized by Atlanta-based non-profit Children Without a Voice, will be taking place nationally, with events scheduled in Olympia for April 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Sylvester Park, and April 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside the East Campus of the Capitol Building.
Those seeking more information regarding the events in Olympia are encouraged to contact Chrissy Durette at (425) 754-7461.
To learn more about local opportunities to support victims of child abuse, as well as how to support advocates through Lewis County Volunteer Guardian ad Litem Program, call (360) 740-2687.