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April kite festivals focus on abuse prevention

NORTH LIBERTY– Kids will receive free kites to fly in remembrance of children lost to abuse at two upcoming Kites for Kids festivals in North Liberty and Iowa City.
The festivals will be noon-2 p.m., Saturday, April 18, in North Liberty on the grounds of North Central Junior High, and noon-2 p.m. Saturday, April 25, at Iowa City’s Lower City Park, Shelter 5.
Both events are free and open to the public and sponsored by the Johnson County Community Partnership for Protecting Children (JC-CPPC) in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Laurie Nash, a representative of Prevent Child Abuse-Johnson County (PCA-JC), said activities like Kites for Kids provide opportunities for positive parent-child interactions in a community-based environment and raise awareness about local resources that can help struggling parents.
“A lot of abuse can be prevented through education and by offering and making people aware of the right community supports for parents,” Nash said. “Kites for Kids promotes the positive part of parenting.”
According to recent statistics, 1,650 children died of abuse or neglect in the United States in 2012; four-to-five per day. In 2013, 12,267 Iowa children were abused, and there were 672 reports of child abuse in Johnson County.
“Our overall message is that protecting children is everyone’s business,” said LaTasha DeLoach, coordinator of the event and the Community Partnership for Protecting Children at Johnson County Social Services. “When someone sees a child in need of attention, they may think that it’s someone else’s job to address it. But, in many cases, abuse prevention is as simple as offering to help a neighbor by watching her kids for an hour so she can rest or shop for groceries.”
Nash said more focused local abuse-prevention programs include home-visitation services, parent education, and support groups.
“We at PCA-JC provide training to child care providers on child development and addressing difficult behaviors,” Nash said. “Programs such as Home Ties and Crisis Child Care offer opportunities for emergency child care. Community-based supports such as recreation programs, summer lunch programs, food pantries, clothing closets and before-and-after-school programs all support the prevention of child abuse.”
Most importantly, activities like Kites for Kids provide opportunities for parents to ask for help and identify resources without feeling singled out, she added.
“Some parents hesitate to ask for help out of fear of some sort of stigma or judgment by the community or service providers. It isn’t always easy to maintain one’s dignity when asking for help and that has got to change,” Nash said.
DeLoach said more than 100 people attended last year’s kite festival in Iowa City. “It was a wonderfully diverse and beautiful gathering of people in our community,” she said. “We are excited to offer it again and to extend the fun to North Liberty families.”
Bronze-level sponsors of this year’s festivals include Great Western Bank and the Optimist Club of North Liberty. Additional supporters include Corridor Kids Dentistry, Hills Bank and Trust Co., Red’s Alehouse, Scheels, the University of Iowa Community Credit Union and several area residents. Prizes and snacks are being provided by the City of Iowa City Recreation Department, North Liberty Recreation Department, Family Video, Molly’s Cupcakes, the North Liberty Community Pantry, North Liberty Pizza Ranch, Zio Johno’s and volunteers.
JC-CPPC is a coalition of county residents and social service workers supporting activities that promote positive family interactions.