BLUE TO BETTER
BY EMILY ECHEVARRIA
This month you might notice a new addition to Palafox Place. No, it’s not a new shop or restaurant—it’s the blue ribbons adorning the light posts that line the street. The bows are part of a larger regional campaign called From Blue to Better that is bringing awareness to Child Abuse Prevention Month which occurs throughout April. The efforts are spearheaded by Gulf Coast Kid’s House, a non-profit organization that works to streamline services to victims of child abuse in one child-friendly location. The services are unfortunately necessary to deal with the problem in our local community. In Northwest Florida last year, 4,462 children were provided service for verified abuse or neglect. The organization works closely with other agencies like the FamiliesFirst Network of Lakeview and the Department of Children & Families, and together those groups developed the From Blue to Better campaign four years ago. “This campaign just started as a collaborative effort and with it we try to turn the four county region blue in some way,” says GCKH executive director Stacy Kostevicki. “What we do here in Escambia County is every year we paint the graffiti bridge and we also will be doing the blue bows down Palafox Street.”
The entire community is invited to get involved with the movement and Kostevicki says they’re especially seeking out businesses and corporations that want to join the campaign. They can do that by purchasing From Blue to Better T-shirts for employees to wear on casual Fridays or even inviting GCKH representatives to come to the business for child abuse prevention training sessions. “We’d be happy to come in and provide education to any business that wants to educate their employees about child abuse prevention,” Kostevicki says. “We offer seminars monthly here at the Kid’s House but we also pride ourselves on doing customized training.” The month of awareness events will kick off with Mayor Ashton Hayward giving a proclamation that April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month, and a slew of activities will follow. On April 17, they’ll team up with Joe Zarzaur’s law firm at Gallery Night, and the monthly Legal Graffiti event will offer spray paint in different shades of blue. Businesses and individuals
are encouraged to put a string of blue lights on their home or office, and elementary schools in the district will have pinwheel gardens made of pinwheels that the students decorate in support of the movement. Another April event that many enjoy supporting for the benefit of GCKH is Chocolatefest, which will take place April 25 at Cordova Mall from 12-3 pm. Tickets $10 in advance and give attendees access to a variety of tasty chocolate samples from dozens of vendors. Tickets can be purchased at pensacolachocolatefest.com, Gulf Coast Kid’s House, and the Cordova Mall Information Booth. There are plenty of other events and promotions going on throughout the month of April to join in and help these organizations shine a light on the issue of child abuse. From Blue to Better campaign is seeking to engage everyone to learn what steps can be taken to prevent abuse and neglect before a child is traumatized, to show support for local agencies that help struggling families, and to commit to take action to help a child or struggling family. For a full list of ways to get involved, visit frombluetobetter.org. “The goal of the campaign is to let everyone in the community know that we all have a part to play in keeping kids safe,” Kostevicki says.
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