Advertisement

Hancock students plant tree and a blue pinwheel garden in memory of child-abuse victims

April 02, 2013|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • Hailey Mackey, center, and her friend Abigail Close release balloons Tuesday at the start of a child abuse awareness event in Hancock's Widmeyer Park. From left are Mason Starliper, Zuleika Valladares, Josie Foltz, Hailey Mackey, Abigail Close, Alexandra Smith, Nicole Starliper, and Benjamin Barnhart. Alexandra was a helper Tuesday with the students from Good Shepherd Preschool.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

HANCOCK — On their final day of spring break, students from Hancock Middle-Senior High School braved the cold Tuesday to join Good Shepherd Preschool students in planting a tree and a blue pinwheel garden at Widmeyer Park, releasing blue balloons into the air and distributing blue ribbons around town in memory of child-abuse victims.

Hancock senior Tanner Faith, who lost a 5-week-old cousin, Bella Appel, to child abuse in 2010, said the issue of child abuse “strikes home” for him.

“There is child abuse out there, and people need to realize how severe it is and what effects it has on families,” said Tanner, 17. “I was going to make sure I was here.”

Tanner’s brother, Skylar, 16, a sophomore at Hancock, said the tree that was planted signifies the “suffering” of families of child-abuse victims.

“Hopefully, people can actually learn from this and stop child abuse in this area,” he said. “This means a lot to my family.”

Advertisement

The students planted a hybrid dogwood tree at the event, which was organized by A Walk to End Child Abuse, founded by the families of Bella Appel and Justice Christopher Calvin Myers-Cannon, another victim of child abuse, according to Bella Appel’s great-grandmother, Dianne McCusker of Hancock.

McCusker, 66, said events such as Tuesday’s are important to “educate the public,” especially youngsters, about their ability to prevent child abuse.

“You’ve got to start them from toddlers, teaching them and trying to educate them to keep abuse from reoccurring,” she said. “The more education they have at an early age, the better they will become as parents when they get older.”

Attending the tree-planting ceremony were Hancock Mayor Daniel A. Murphy and representatives from Maryland State Police, Hancock Police Department and Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore said it is important for people to understand what constitutes child abuse and the resources that are available to victims of such abuse.

“It is important for the community to come together and to support the victims of child abuse,” Mullendore said. “While a lot of these kids are still very young, they are taught good touch/bad touch, mental and physical as well as sexual abuse, and I think it’s nice to reinforce those teachings to them.”

Tuesday’s event was one of several that will be held in the area in April, which is Child Abuse Awareness Month.

There will be two Rock Me, Don’t Shake Me events Saturday — from 9 p.m. to midnight at Hancock American Legion and from 8:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. at New Delmar Inn in Hagerstown. The events will include music, raffles and drinks. Proceeds will benefit Safe Place Child Advocacy Center in Hagerstown and Safe Haven Child Advocacy Center of the Eastern Panhandle.

The third annual Walk/Run to End Child Abuse will be April 27 in Hancock. The event includes a two-mile walk and a 5K run on the Western Maryland Rail Trail in Hancock as well as a poster contest for youths.

There is a $10 registration fee for walkers and a $15 registration fee for runners, with proceeds going to benefit local children through the Safe Haven Child Advocacy Center, South Mountain Bikers Against Child Abuse and West Virginia Bikers Against Child Abuse.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|