Child Abuse Prevention Month kicks off in Tuba City
The Alliance for Beauty and Harmony in all 4 Directions began a month full of activities surrounding Child Abuse Prevention Month with a Kick-Off Walk from Tuba City Junior High to the Tuba City Truck Stop. Representatives from many of the service departments in Tuba joined with residents to hike down the big hill, hoping to increase awareness for the problems child abuse and neglect presents not only to their own community, but to communities across the nation.
Many of the marchers were physically and mentally challenged, but they were obviously enjoying the morning outing. One young woman raised her hands to the sky above her—her body may be bound to the wheelchair she spends so much time in, but it was obvious that her spirit is free. Michelle, also in a wheelchair, laughed with joy, her smile matched the intensity of the beautiful sunshine.
These ladies were not the only ones on wheels this day. Little Latina peddled along in her tiny red, yellow and purple three-wheeler brightly festooned with zoo animals. Her mother and father hurried beside her, correcting her path when necessary.
At least 40 people turned out in support of The Alliance for Beauty and Harmony in All 4-Directions, which is a recently established community organization formed to work on various community prevention projects. Programs within the Navajo Division of Social Services have joined forces to confront and deal with problems such as child abuse, elder abuse, substance abuse and juvenile delinquency. These programs include Adult in Home Care, Navajo Child Special Advocacy Project, Child Protective Services, Tuba City for Family Harmony Program as well as the San Juan Southern Paiute Health Services and IHS.
When the walkers arrived at the truck stop, Sharon Iron welcomed the morning’s inspirational speaker, Wanda Mac Donald, who works with the Behavioral Health Services division.
“It’s sad when the only thing a child learns at their parent’s knee is to watch out for cigarette ashes or stay out of the way, “MacDonald said in opening. She thanked the participating groups for inviting her to participate in the official opening of Child Abuse Prevention Month, and commended the different divisions for “leading the way to promote public interest and to inspire everyone to take an active part in child abuse prevention.”
MacDonald, who works with the Behavioral Health Services division, is aware of the problems out there and believes that “prevention should begin with the prenatal period, continued education and support services for parents and the children throughout their school years.”
She admits that childcare is a parent’s responsibility, “but if everyone has to work, children can be considered a problem.” She also touched on sexual abuse, which she described as “one of the most violent” of abuses, explaining that victims exhibit personality disorders, suicidal tendencies, fear, low achievement, aggression, poor self-esteem, depression and other problems.
MacDonald’s closing statement was firm, yet emotional. “If you, or I, see a child being abused or neglected, we are responsible to report the matter to a child protective agency or we are as guilty as the parents. The child’s emotional, spiritual and physical health is everyone’s responsibility. That is also the Navajo Way.
Other events scheduled for the month of April include a Family Day sponsored by the Division of Social Services-Family & Children Services, (contact Ruby Lewis at 283-3266), an Informational booth at Greyhills High School during the “Stars in the Desert” Buddy Big Mountain performance (Vanessa Brown at CACY at 283-4883), a mini-conference from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Tuba City Chapter House (Sharon Iron at 283-3319 or Nora Tallman at 283-4649), a Community Easter Egg Hunt from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. east of the Social Services Administration Building (Abbey Begody at 283-3250 or Teron Yazzie @ 283-3024), and a non-traffic enforcement roadblock adjacent to the Tuba City Police Department on Main where child abuse prevention materials will be distributed. The Alliance will hold a wind-up walk from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. from the Tuba City Truck Stop to Tuba City Jr. High School. After an ending prayer, T-shirts will be handed out. (Teron Yazzie at 283-3024).