Monday, April 28, 2014
Williamsburg County Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) program celebrated the second annual Child Abuse Prevention Month Community Walk on April 12. The event was followed by a candlelight vigil held at Williamsburg County Courthouse to bring to light those children who are abused. The month of April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and the theme for this year was standing up and speaking out for children of the 3rd Judicial Circuit.
Williamsburg County GAL volunteers handle cases for children from birth to 18 years old and act as a representative to stand up for them in court. They are not there to remove the child from the home; they are there to speak for the child in the situations. Heading up the event was Keisha Wilson, the county coordinator for the 3rd Judicial Circuit for Williamsburg County, which also includes Sumter, Lee, and Clarendon counties. “Many people have a negative connotation about DSS and about the Guardian Ad Litem program; but what the public needs to understand is we are here only for the benefit of the child in the situation we are representing,” said Wilson. “We want kids to know that there is always someone who cares and someone who won't give up on them.” The volunteers also create awareness by planting pinwheels in highly visible areas. “The blue and silver pinwheels are the National Symbol for Child Abuse Prevention,” said Wilson.
The shimmering pinwheels, that can be seen sparkling on Main Street in Kingstree, represent the Blue Ribbon Child Abuse Prevention Campaign, which had its early beginnings following the death of a young boy. After receiving the news of her grandchild's death from injuries inflicted by his parents, the boy's grandmother tied a blue ribbon to the antenna of her van as a way to remember the bruised and battered body of her grandson and to alert her community to the tragedy of child abuse.
Wilson said volunteers are always needed. “As citizens we have a responsibility to the children of our community,” said Wilson. “Child abuse is not just a rural problem. It's not just something that happens somewhere else. Never be oblivious to the problem because it is here. It is a community problem and the community needs to be involved.” For more information regarding the guardian ad litem program contact Keisha Wilson at (843) 354-3291 or firstname.lastname@example.org.