In Orange County during 2016, ten children died as a result of abuse or neglect. There were 31,162 reports of suspected child abuse and neglect with 5,295 substantiated cases. Thus the reason it was so important on April 5th the Blue Ribbon Task Force led by The Raise Foundation held Orange County’s Blue Ribbon Month Kick-Off Ceremony (during National Child Abuse Prevention Month). It was a time to pay tribute to the children who died and in their memory to recommit to doing all the community can to prevent child abuse and neglect. Emceeing the program was Vikki Vargas of NBC4 Southern California who herself is very involved with helping foster youth. The impact speaker was former foster youth Casas who emphasized the need for more families to foster children. Students from Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) sang two poignant songs to conclude the memorable ceremony. The gathering was attended by many civic and community leaders, parents, educators, and other advocates for children.
To help prevent child abuse, the Task Force challenged Orange County residents to commit to at least one of seven specific pledges of action. While the month is over there’s not time like the present to take action so the seven include helping Orange county’s foster children, never leaving children in a car unattended, scanning water to ensure the safety of children, and reporting suspected child abuse. To see the complete list, visit the awareness campaign website at www.ocblueribbon.org.
The Blue Ribbon Kick-Off Ceremony also recognized OC Blue Ribbon heroes which included 2017 Blue Ribbon Award Recipient (Individual) Dr. Sandra Murray, 2017 Shining Light Award Recipients Paul and Anissa Walker, and the County of Orange Social Services Agency as the 2017 Blue Ribbon Award Recipient (Group).
Earlier in the month, nestled in the heart of Irvine’s Great Park, at the Clinic in the Park Blue Ribbon Family Fun Day, parents and children joined together to “plant” Orange County’s largest blue pinwheel garden. Activities included a bounce house, fun with Benny the Blue Ribbon Bunny and UCI’s Peter the Anteater Mascot, a festive egg hunt, and crafts. The youth winners of the 2017 Blue Ribbon Youth Art Contest were celebrated. The Clinic in the Park also offered attendees free books, health insurance enrollment support, health/safety tips and tools, and resource tables.
Chair of the Blue Ribbon Task Force Keri Gee Semmelman, of The Raise Foundation, shared the group is striving to engage the entire community in the campaign – whether or not a person has or cares for children. “The overriding goal is to help people become even more mindful when it comes to the safety of all children, because being a child should not hurt.”
Orange County’s Blue Ribbon (Child Abuse Awareness) Month is organized by the Orange County Blue Ribbon Task Force spearheaded by The Raise Foundation (Orange County’s Child Abuse Prevention Council). The Task Force includes representatives from Orange County Fire Authority, The Orange County Sheriff’s Department, County of Orange Social Services Agency, Families and Communities Together (FaCT), the American Academy of Pediatrics – Orange County, Orange County Department of Education, and The Raise Foundation.
Commit today to your pledge of action! Join Orange County’s efforts to protect our children.