That was the call that came in earlier this week, from more than one concerned person. They reported that a band of teenagers was slinging shoes of all sizes into the trees alongside Children’s Hospital. They were wondering why. The reason is sobering.
April is Child Abuse Awareness Month. As an awareness activity, Family Service Center (a County Health Access Program coalition member) asked UTMB if they could hang shoes in our trees to symbolize the number of local children who have been abused or neglected this past year (a stunning and sad 575 kids, with a pair of shoes representing each one).
A bunch of people pulled together, including the bright-eyed volunteers above, UTMB administrators, and the ever-helpful FOAM team, and they got it done. Kathleen Tiernan in Community Outreach helped coordinate the effort for UTMB, and she said in an email, “From the attention we drew assembling the display—even tears—I think we did a good thing.”
I would agree. More power to children, and more patience, compassion and love for all of us who care for them. As I make my way home tonight to a warm welcome and embracing hug from my own progeny, I’ll be thinking of those shoes and the poor innocents they represent.