York Students plan Candlelight Walk in Support of Child Abuse Prevention
Penn State York’s Human Development and Family Studies (HD FS) Club is holding a candlelight vigil and silent walk of the campus to show their support of victims of child abuse on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 5 p.m. Those who plan to participate should meet in the lobby of the Main Classroom Building, 1031 Edgecomb Ave., York, Pa. The event is open to the public. Last year the HD FS Club held a similar event in November.
Participants will walk together, as a unified group, circle the campus in silence, and finish in the lobby of the Main Classroom Building where brief remarks will be shared regarding the HD FS Club’s pledge tree project and its goal to raise public awareness of child abuse prevention. Walkers will be asked to sign a pledge and then place a paper Nittany Lion paw on the tree which will be displayed in the building lobby throughout the rest of the semester.
“Last year the HD FS Club made a strong commitment for advocacy regarding child abuse,” said Michelle Cooper, a Penn State York student and president of the club. “In light of the Sandusky scandal, we felt it was more important than ever to include the community in this commitment.”
Throughout last year, students in the HD FS Club worked with several local outreach programs including the YWCA, Darkness to Light, Voices for Victims, and the Front Porch Project. The vigil and pledge signing last year was just the beginning for the group.
“We were able to provide educational opportunities and draw attention to the countless causes of child and sexual abuse awareness to the Penn State York campus and we were so proud to see how many people remained focused on the pledge they made last November,” said Cooper. “This year, we have decided that the candlelight vigil will be an annual event. We feel that the vigil is not only a chance for all of us to renew our commitment to prevention of child abuse, but also an opportunity to help the number of Penn State and York County pledges grow.”
The group plans to hold the event in mid-November each year, not only as a reminder of the scandal that brought child abuse so close to home for Penn State, but as a public display of support for all victims of abuse.
“This vigil is not just for the victims of Sandusky’s terrible crimes. This is for all the victims of abuse and for everyone who wishes to join our commitment to do the right thing...the first time, every time,” said Cooper.
Pledge participants will be asked to sign the follow: “I believe that every child has a right to grow up free from the shadow of abuse. I believe that the responsibility to protect children rests solely in adult hands. I believe that, as adults, we must remain ever vigilant and dedicate no less than the best of ourselves to that purpose. To all the victims of abuse, male and female, adult and children, known and unknown: I pledge to educate myself about the realities of child abuse; I pledge to give a voice and report any and all suspicions; I pledge to cast a light in the darkness by doing the right thing the first time, every time.”
The program is slated to end by 6 p.m. in order for students and faculty to arrive on time for evening classes.