Western Slope Center for Children looks to expand as abuse numbers rise due to increased awareness
WHAT: UV Splash 5K
WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 10, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Canyon View Park, G and 24 roads, Grand Junction
COST: $40 per individual
Western Slope Center for Children opened in 1997 as a place for children and their families who may have been abused a place to find help.
“We can do it all in one place, to offer a home-like atmosphere,” said Jody Brandon, development and outreach coordinator. “Having all the support in one place can dramatically reduce stress for families.”
The center offers medical exams, forensic interviews, prevention training, and coordinations with law enforcement and department of human services. It is currently located at 259 Grand Ave., in Grand Junction. Western Slope Center for Children currently has six on staff, but they are looking to expand to a new location in order to hire several new staff members.
According to the center, it saw 358 children and 380 secondary victims. More than 310 cases were sexual assault cases. In 2015, the center is slated to see more than 400.
“We don’t believe these are a rise in cases, but more that awareness is on the rise,” Brandon said.
There is also an on-site therapist who is able to help cope with the traumatic experience they may have gone through.
“It is a benefit for the children to make it less traumatic for them and their families,” Brandon added.
The center encourages Mesa County residents to report child abuse concerns as soon as possible to help the victims. There are many warning signs of a child who may be abused including withdrawal from others, clinging to parents, rebelliousness, change in appetite, mood changes, lying or aggressiveness.
If abuse is suspected, folks are encouraged to contact department of human services or local law enforcement and an investigation will begin.
Volunteers are also needed to help with office duties, fundraisers and events. Folks are also encouraged to take part in a program called Stewards of Children, which is a prevention training program that teaches adults how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.
“We are getting out in the community more and awareness is rising,” Brandon said.
The nonprofit gives small items to each victim that comes through the door, which is can be as small as a juice box to as big as a stuffed animal to help comfort them. They are always looking for donations of items including individual snacks, canned soda, toys for all ages, board games, art supplies, or even gift cards for the older children.
Monetary donations are also accepted.
Western Slope Center for Children and Girls on the Run will host a UV Splash run on Saturday, Oct. 10, starting at 7 p.m. at Canyon View Park (corner of G and 24 roads, Grand Junction). Entrance fee to run costs $40 and 50 percent of proceeds benefit the center and Girls on the Run.
For more information, visit http://www.wscchildren.org.
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