Puppets used for serious subject

Published 7:52 am Wednesday, April 27, 2005

By By Tim Cottrell
If you had entered an elementary school in the county this month, you might have gotten a treat.
Hope Place and the Child Advocacy Center of Escambia County traveled to each elementary school in the county to do a puppet show for third graders about preventing child abuse. The puppet shows are an effort of Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Vicki Fussell of Hope Place was glad to have a partnership with the Child Advocacy Center.
"The puppet show is shown in all the schools in the county," Fussell said. "It focuses on how kids can turn to people they trust such as parents or authority figures if they're in trouble."
ShaBarbara Williams and Angie Johnson joined Fussell from the Hope Place in putting on the puppet show, as well as Stephanie Jackson from the Child Advocacy Center.
In addition to the puppet show, third graders received another prize.
"We gave out blue rubber bands with 'Stop Child Abuse' printed on them," Fussell said. "The blue represents the bruises children who are sexually or physically abused receive. If you see a kid wearing one, ask them about it.
"We also went around to businesses in Flomaton, Brewton, and Atmore," Fussell added. "We put blue ribbons on all the doors to acknowledge child abuse awareness."
Fussell also felt lucky that Escambia County had enough resources to provide for its children.
"We're fortunate that we have a Child Advocacy Center to provide support for children," Fussell said. "A lot of counties don't have an advocacy center or a place like Hope Place, and we have both. We provide support for children who have been abused, and we help with investigation and prosecution."
In addition to directly helping children, Hope Place and the Child Advocacy Center also help parents.
"We partner for prevention," Fussell said. "We do a lot of education-related things, like parenting classes. Both our groups are funded through various grants, and both of us are non-profit."

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