772 Pairs of Children’s Shoes Displayed to Represent Average Number of Massachusetts Children with Confirmed Cases of Abuse or Neglect in One Week
On April 7, 2016, the Children’s Trust, Massachusetts’ leading family support organization, joined with Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Senator Bruce Tarr, Representative Ellen Story, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce President James Rooney, and others to announce April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to recognize that working with families early to ensure they are strong and healthy is the surest way to keep kids safe.
The 11th annual “Step Up for Kids” event featured a display of 772 pairs of children’s shoes covering the Grand Staircase of the State House. The display represented the average number of children with confirmed cases of abuse or neglect each week in Massachusetts.
"Massachusetts' children are our future, and nothing is more important than ensuring every child is raised in a healthy and stable environment," said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. "We have been working closely with the Department of Children & Families and frontline social workers on reforms that will keep more children safe from neglect and abuse and are proud to recognize the Children's Trust's role over the last three decades in strengthening family relationships by giving parents and caregivers the educational resources and guidance they need."
James E. Rooney, President & CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and Chair of the Board of Directors at the Children’s Trust, said, “Earlier this year, Massachusetts was reported as having the highest rate of abused and neglected children in the nation. As a community, we cannot let this statistic stand without taking action together to stop the abuse of our most vulnerable citizens. We know family support programs have proven to work in keeping our kids safe, and we should continue joining forces to help programs like the Children’s Trust grow their reach.”
“We are all here today because we care about children and want to keep them safe, but we don’t have to wait until families are broken and isolated, and children are being hurt ,” said Suzin Bartley, Executive Director of the Children’s Trust. “We have another choice. We can prevent child abuse and neglect from happening by partnering with families early to ensure they are strong and healthy. To me, the choice is clear.”
At the event, the Children’s Trust honored two state legislators whose work has benefited the children and families of Massachusetts. Representative Ellen Story (D-Amherst) received the award from George Atanasov, Director of Government Affairs, AbbVie, Inc., and member of the Children’s Trust Board of Directors. Senator Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) received the Valuing Our Children Award, presented by Ryan Hutchins, Senior Vice President, Gilbane Building Co., and Vice Chair of the Children’s Trust Board of Directors.
Two parents told how programs supported by the Children Trust help them to create nurturing homes for their children.
Miguel P. of Amherst participates in Healthy Families, an in-home parenting support and coaching program for first-time, young parents.
“This program has become the support we needed not only to learn what to do as parents, but to grow as individuals and access all the necessary help from the community,” he said.
Lawren Turco of Saugus is a recent graduate of Healthy Families. She is working full time and is a current student of Bunker Hill Community College studying to become an ultrasound technician.
She said, “Without Healthy Families I can honestly say I don’t believe I would have made it this far. This program has done so many amazing things for me. If it weren’t for this program, I can assure you I would not be the confident young mother that I am today.”
The Two Ten Foundation, in association with their footwear partners BCNY International, Clarks Americas, Crocs, Khombu, and New Balance, are proud sponsors of “Step Up for Kids” and donated the children’s shoes. Shoes will be distributed to families in the Children’s Trust’s programs.
Neal Newman, president of the Two Ten Footwear Foundation, said “Helping people in times of crisis has been a core tenet since our founding 75 years ago. Through our annual Footwear Cares initiative, we mobilize thousands of employees from footwear companies across the country to volunteer in their communities. This year we’re focusing our efforts on impacting the lives of disadvantaged children, and kicking off our national campaign with the Children’s Trust, here in our hometown, is an honor.” He added, “Our footwear partners who donated shoes for this unique event are testament to the generosity and compassion of our industry, and we are thankful to them for their incredible support.”