The Woman’s World Summit Foundation began hosting national World Day conferences in each state six years ago, but this year marks the first time the state chapters have been asked to come up with ways to educate people about the prevention of child abuse in the 19 days leading up to the all-day event on Nov. 19.
Jinger Robins, the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Georgia board chair who’s been associated with the organization for 16 years, said they decided to focus on one theme each day that is a potential factor in violence and child abuse.
For example, today is dedicated to educating others about cyber bullying. Other themes include Nov. 4 being dedicated to teen violence and Nov. 16 to Internet safety.
“We are asking people to commit to one of those days and plead about it through your social media,” Robins said. “We can start to change our mindset and value system around protecting children, giving people hands-on ways to get involved and … letting them know they can be a part of protecting children.”
Georgia’s 19 Days of Activism: Protecting Children and Their Dreams campaign will end with a conference at Kennesaw State University’s Continuing Education Building Nov. 19.
This year’s keynote speaker will be 25-year-old Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted at 14 years old from her Salt Lake City, Utah, home on June 5, 2002.
Smart was found alive nine months later in Sandy, Utah, about 18 miles from her home, living with Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Ileen Barzee, who were indicted for her kidnapping.
“She is going to come and talk in terms of the particular type of experience that she had, the abuse, her survival, her story beyond the survival and her success as a survivor,” Robins said. “We’ve had other speakers before, but I think she will be a true inspiration for us all.”
Smart will begin speaking at 9:15 a.m. and sign autographs at 11 a.m.
Breakout sessions will be held afterwards where participants can attend different trainings. Examples of sessions include learning more about creating safe spaces for children, Internet crimes against children and mandated reporting.
“You don’t have to know all the details about child abuse, but if you’re involved, you can help change society and prevent further child abuse,” Robins said.
Kennesaw State’s Lisa Johnson, who has worked in the department of social work and human affairs for the last six years, also serves on the board of directors at the Georgia organization.
“I have always worked with children who have been abused or neglected, so this has always sort of been a passion of mine,” she said. “The Children’s Advocacy Center is a natural fit for me because of their mission and what they do.”
Since World Day was started, KSU has hosted the conference, which Johnson said is a great way to not only educate their students, staff and faculty, but also the community.
“It’s so vital because not only are we taking a stand against child abuse, we’re also working on the prevention of it,” she said.
The school is the first of 20 universities nationally that offer a Child Advocacy Studies Training certificate. Students take part in fundraising for the center by selling $1 blue bracelets that read “Stop Child Abuse.”
“It’s nice that they thought about something that they wanted to do as well,” she said.
For more information about how to participate or to see a full list of the daily themes, visit www.cacga.org. Registration for the conference, which closes Nov. 12 and costs $50 per person, can also be found online.