The Community Children’s Shelter and Family Service Center in Ardmore will be busy raising awareness of child abuse throughout April and the community is invited to help.
The shelter is participating in National Child Abuse Prevention Month with blue ribbon trees throughout Carter and Love Counties, as well as a national campaign to raise awareness about child sexual abuse. Shelter Executive Director Kaylyn Weldon-Gary said the shelter has several things planned.
 On April 5, the shelter will
participate in a statewide campaign to wear blue. The shelter will sell blue Child Abuse Prevention shirts for anyone who wants to participate. Proceeds from the shirt sales will go to the recreation fund, which pays for activities for children at the shelter throughout the year.
“We have a garden in our backyard and we need help coming up with the funds, the seeds, the dirt,” she said. “It helps pay for them to go to Thunder basketball games and Redhawks baseball games, Six Flags, the zoo, things for kids to be able to participate and have as normal of a childhood as possible.”
Ardmore and Marietta will have blue ribbon trees in places around both cities, near schools, businesses and government buildings to raise awareness and the shelter will distribute blue ribbon lapel pins.
“It’s part of a statewide and national campaign to raise awareness for child abuse prevention,” she said.
In addition, the shelter will take part in Five Days of Action, a national campaign to raise awareness of childhood sexual abuse. The campaign comes with a downloadable kit, explaining what and what not to do if someone suspects a child is being sexually abused.
“It’s to help people recognize the symptoms and understand what they should do, what steps they should take,” she said. “It helps to raise awareness of the child abuse hotline, the signs and symptoms, and if we make people more aware of that, we can protect children.”
The campaign urges participants to Know, See and Respond to the signs and pledge to follow through and provides learning materials and guidelines. The campaign begins April 22.
“There’s a lot to it,” she said.
Kids’ Day In The Park, an annual event that connects families with various resources, will be moved to May 11 to avoid conflict with Easter weekend. The event usually takes places in April, but was canceled due to weather last year.
“It’s Mother’s Day Weekend, so we’re going to go with it and focus on how healthy children need healthy mothers,” Weldon-Gary said.
Anyone interested in participating in Five Days of Action can find more information at https://www.fivedaysofaction.org/.