Community comes together to celebrate childrenOne case of child abuse is one case too many. That’s the message Doreen Wehmas had for the community during Celebrate Children Day activities Wednesday in the Government Center.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
One case of child abuse is one case too many.
That’s the message Doreen Wehmas had for the community during Celebrate Children Day activities Wednesday in the Government Center. The intake and assessment supervisor for Douglas County Health and Human Services said in 2011, 892 reports of suspected child abuse were received. Of those reports, 269 were screened in for investigation. An additional 339 families were offered services for child welfare.
Child abuse doesn’t mean just physical and sexual abuse, she said. Of the reports the county received, 171 were for suspected cases of neglect.
“These are not statistics,” said Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar. “They are our children, our responsibility, our future, our hope.”
Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen remarked on the enthusiasm of youth.
“You can learn a lot about children by watching and listening,” he said. During a visit to Great Lakes Elementary School three weeks ago, the mayor asked a class of second graders to vote on the three things that would be best for Superior. They chose a new animal shelter, better promotion of the skate park and an arts and crafts model store. When Hagen told the children the city will soon break ground for a new animal shelter, the students “went nuts.”
“The teacher said ‘They think you’re building it because they voted for it,’” Hagen said. So the mayor is hoping to find a set of small shovels for the students to use at the groundbreaking ceremony.
State Assemblyman Nick Milroy, D-South Range, expressed his thanks to the people who give children opportunities and spend their lives working for them — teachers, social workers and others.
Nicky Wilson, a community member who serves students, was honored with the annual Friend of Children Award. As the family service coordinator for the School District of Superior, Wilson oversees after school services at three elementary schools, the Family Resource Center and homeless/transitional services for students. But her involvement doesn’t end there. Teaming up with National Bank of Commerce and the United Way, Wilson helped launch Nutrition on Weekends, which provides backpacks full of food for homeless students every weekend. She is also involved in a ministry at Bayside Baptist Church that provides needed items like diapers, clothing, formula and car seats for children entering foster care.
Receiving the Friend of Children Award, Wilson said, was a surprise.
“This is my job and you do it because it’s the right thing to do,” she said.
Wilson encouraged community members interested in preventing child abuse to attend a free “Stewards of Children” training from 9 a.m. to noon April 14 at the Superior Middle School. The program teaches adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. Although the class is free, space is limited. Register at (715) 395-5657 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In celebration of Child Abuse Prevention Month, everyone is invited to a free family fun night 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday at Northern Lights Elementary. The evening includes a family dinner, crafts and activities. Safety information will also be available.