When the ladies of Junior League place their blue ribbons all over downtown Sarasota, St. Armands Circle and the Westfield Southgate Shopping Plaza, the town won’t know what hit it.
Junior League of Sarasota and the Child Protection Center have teamed up and planned several events during the month of April — National Child Abuse Prevention Month — for a campaign called “Paint the Town Blue.” The month-long initiative hopes to bring awareness of child abuse to light and to make a positive difference in the Sarasota community.
“Blue ribbons will appear all down Main Street, downtown Sarasota, all of St. Armands and inside the Southgate Plaza,” said Caryn Patterson, Junior League’s community vice president and Child Abuse Prevention and Intervention Signature Project chairwoman. “We will also have posters at various locations with the hotline number. Child abuse is not a pretty subject to talk about, but we have to do it to protect our children.”
The blue-ribbon campaign originated in 1989, when a Virginia grandmother tied a blue ribbon to her car antenna as a tribute to her grandson, who was beaten to death by his mother’s abusive boyfriend. The blue ribbon has since become the national symbol for the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Locally, the CPC paints the town with blue ribbons to promote awareness of this issue.
The League is currently in the second year of its three-year-long Child Abuse Prevention and Intervention Signature Project, designed to help break the cycle of child abuse and neglect through the organization of a program that will educate the community on child-abuse-prevention issues.
The League’s signature project is made up of five components, the first of which is to educate through painting the town blue not only with ribbons, but with blue paint inside pediatrician’s offices, libraries, businesses, health centers and schools. The second component is the Child Advocacy Luncheon April 6, which honors those who dedicate their lives to protecting children. The third component is practicing Internet safety to avoid cyber bullying.
“Our fourth component is Junior League’s donation of $150,000 to the Child Advocacy Center to build and implement a playground for children who are abused, so they can go out there and be kids again,” Patterson said.
The fifth component involves the training of Junior League members by CPC staff to observe interaction between the children, who are removed from their homes and their parents.
Blue ribbons will begin to appear on light poles around town March 30. The following day, the League will decorate the Southgate Shopping Plaza, setting the stage for the kickoff party and reception April 1, at Banana Republic.
“I felt that with having two children of my own, I wanted to do something that would not only make a big impact in the community, but would show children the need to volunteer and give back,” said Patterson. “I wanted to educate my children of other circumstances and the realities out there that other children face and to know that when children get hurt, these people are here to help them.”
Contact Loren Mayo at email@example.com.
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