Fair at Cape Girardeau church aims to educate on child abuse

Sunday, March 29, 2009

April is child abuse awareness month and local support groups and community service organizations have planned a Children's Fair for fun and education.

Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cape Girardeau Police and the D.A.R.E. car, Kids in Christian Karate School, a rock climbing wall, magic show, food stands, balloons, games for children and child advocacy support group booths will create the 1st annual Children's Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lynwood Baptist Church parking lot Saturday (raindate is April 11).

Bikers Against Child Abuse and the National Guard have organized the fair and local groups like Court Appointed Special Advocates and Southeast Missouri Network Against Sexual Violence will have booths offering information about their services.

CASAs are volunteers who support children in foster care until the child is placed in a safe, permanent home, by forming a positive relationship between the child and others involved in his or her life. CASAs often help judges make decisions about a child's care because of their unique involvement in a child's life.

Eric Welch, member and former BACA president, said it is important to make people aware of the support available for children who are victims of child abuse or afraid of their perpetrators. BACA offers protection to children by standing watch outside their homes if needed. The group holds regular fundraisers to provide for needy children, raise awareness about child abuse and neglect and encourage individuals in the community to become involved.

Services offered by SEMO-NASV include examinations, forensic interviews, victims' advocacy, prevention education and counseling. Tammy Gwaltney, executive director, said she thinks it's important to have a fair like this.

"Parents need to know how to protect their children from sexual offenders," she said. "If we don't talk to our kids about their bodies, the offenders will gladly take on this role."

Cape Girardeau National Guard recruiter, Staff Sgt. Steven Bell, said the National Guard's support in a fair like this is part of their civic duty.

"Kids love to see the military stuff," Bell said. "The National Guard is a community-oriented organization. We'll be bringing heavy equipment and games for kids."

Tic-tac-toe toss, a duck pond and face painting are some of the amusements available for the younger set.

A rock climbing wall and basketball challenge are some of the more challenging activities for older children. The basketball challenge requires getting the ball through the hoop almost impossible with a bungee cord attached to the player.

Children will have the chance to board a Humvee, a military personnel carrier that resembles a tank and an H-3 Humvee equipped with stereo and gaming equipment.

cpagano@semissourian.com

388-3648

pertinent address:

Lynwood Baptist Church

2935 Lynwood Hills Dr., Cape Girardeau

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