NORWICH — The Chenango County Child Advocacy Center (CAC) will be hosting their second annual Hope for Healing 5K run and walk on Saturday, April 30 in East Park, as part of their awareness efforts during April Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Participants can register online at chenangochildadvocacy.us/hope-for-healing-5k.html or on the day of the event beginning at 8:30 a.m. in East Park. A Zumba session will be held from 9:30 to 10 a.m., and a quarter mile kids’ run will begin at 10:15 a.m., with the official 5K starting at 10:30 a.m.
The first 100 runners who register will receive a T-shirt, and all participants will get a gift bag with various items, according to CAC Program Coordinator Joanne Smith.
“They get Child Advocacy Center memorabilia like pens and notebooks, they get a water bottle in there, hand sanitizers are coming from [NYCM] Insurance,” said Smith. “And then just information about our services, a pinwheel, so just some fun things for them registering for the race.”
Registration is $30 per person 18 years and older, and $10 for children aged five to 17 years old. Last year, the money raised went toward needed medical equipment for examinations related to child abuse at Chenango Memorial Hospital. This year, all funds will go toward CAC programming and development of their Multi-Disciplinary Team.
“That means team building, that means training, that means even just getting meetings together, there's a cost for that piece of it,” Smith explained. “Then the other thing is for support group programs. We have two ongoing support groups for care providers, and also for our Safe Harbour Program, and it takes money to run those. And then the last thing of course is direct services.”
The funds will also go toward the CAC’s Community Foundation Backpack Program, which provides backpacks containing stress and anxiety management items to children who need it.
The program was started after the CAC received a grant from the Community Foundation Program. It was so successful that they continue to provide the backpacks, but need funding to keep it going.
“We have found there are a lot of children who go through our program, and then they go through the criminal justice system and they still have to have visitations, oftentimes with the individual that has harmed them,” said Smith. “We don’t have any control over those decisions, but what we can do for children is provide them with stress management tools and some fun things to help them lower their anxiety if they’re having these visitation meetings.”
Smith said they work with each child to customize a backpack with whatever items will help the child manage their stress, such as dolls or “worry monsters.”
“We talk a lot about stress and anxiety, and we talk about safety planning, and then really they design their own backpack. Whatever works for them to help them relieve their anxiety and stress, and when they go on their visits they just think it’s a backpack full of toys, but there’s meaning behind it, and the kid knows it,” Smith said. “We’re hoping to build that fund back up and provide this really valuable tool for kids.”
During the Hope for Healing 5K, attendees and participants can also check out the various local agencies and businesses who will be set up in East Park, and children can enjoy fun activities and an animal area with dogs and rabbits.
Gilligan’s Island from Sherburne will be in attendance as well, serving up blue ice cream to match the blue pinwheels and lights set up by the CAC throughout the month of April for Child Abuse Prevention Month.
The pavilion in East Park will hold donated gift baskets that will be raffled off at 12:30 p.m. after the awards ceremony. Raffle tickets are $1 per piece, or $10 for an arm length, which will provide further funding for CAC programs.
“We already have some already from the National Historical Society, they have a whole bunch of goodies talking about the history of Chenango County, we got four tickets from the Classic Car Museum, we got a basket through Teaser’s, the salon, they put something together,” said Smith.
Local businesses or organizations who would like to donate a basket can contact Smith at 607-334-5437.
Smith can also be contacted for more information on the CAC’s Pinwheels for Prevention Campaign and Shine Blue for Hope Campaign, in which pinwheels or blue lights are displayed on a property or building in support of Child Abuse Awareness Month.
The Hope for Healing 5K run and walk was made possible by sponsors, including NYCM Insurance, M&T Bank, Community Bank, the Children’s Home of Wyoming Conference, Grand Union, and Live Event NY.
“We don't talk about this stuff often, so April is our opportunity to be able to say, look, here we are. We provide this incredible, valuable service for the community,” said Smith. “April is also a way to do it in a positive manner. That's why we have the 5K. It’s like, all right, so we know this is a tough issue to talk about, let’s find ways to come together as a community and support those who have been impacted by a crime in our community.”
“Our 5K, we’re able to raise awareness as well as raise money for our program and for those impacted.”
More information about the Chenango County Child Advocacy Center and the resources they offer can be found on their website, chenangochildadvocacy.us, or on the Chenango County Child Advocacy Center Facebook page.