About 200 walkers leave Valparaiso’s courthouse square for Old Fairgrounds Park on Saturday during Prevent Child Abuse’s annual walk for Child Abuse Prevention Month. | Sun-Times Media
The Child Protective Services hotline to report suspected child abuse or neglect is (800) 800-5556.
For more about Prevent Child Abuse Porter County, call (219) 531-9012; find the organization online, www.pcapc.org or on Facebook.
Updated: May 28, 2014 6:26AM
VALPARAISO — Blue and silver pinwheels spun in a stiff, chilly breeze Saturday, a symbol of a safe childhood.
“Every child deserves a happy, carefree childhood,” LuAnn Shirley, president of Prevent Child Abuse Porter County, told about 200 people who gathered on the courthouse square for a walk to raise awareness about child abuse.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and this is the third year PCAPC has sponsored a walk in its commemoration. Participants walked from the square to Old Fairgrounds Park.
People get tired of seeing news stories about child abuse, Shirley said, stories that touch their hearts.
“You might say, I wish someone would do something, and somewhere in your heart, you realize that someone could be you,” she said. “We are proud to be part of the solution.”
Many of the participants held the pinwheels.
“Like the pinwheels we carry today, we have hope for a safe community, for safe kids, and that we are part of the solution,” Shirley said.
A large contingent of the crowd came Valparaiso University’s Kappa Delta sorority, which does fundraisers throughout the year for PCAPC. Senior Kelsey Loden, of Palatine, Ill., said the sorority raised about $600 for the organization this school year.
Laura Black, a therapist at the Family and Youth Services Bureau, came with friends and brought along daughter Isabelle, 2, who held a pinwheel while she sat in her stroller.
“For me personally, it’s to make sure she’s knowledgeable about what’s safe and what’s not safe,” the Valparaiso mom said.
Kelly Galka, a case manager for the Division of Child Services office in Gary, wanted to bring attention to the problem of child abuse.
“I think a lot of people don’t understand, and I think this is a great way to raise awareness,” said the Valparaiso resident, who was with her mom, Stephanie Cooley of Dyer.