State of Tennessee Press Release, March 18, 2010:
NASHVILLE – First Lady Andrea Conte visited several East Tennessee Child Advocacy Centers this week to increase awareness about the issue of child abuse and build support for the work of Child Advocacy Centers to help children who are victims of sexual and severe physical abuse.
First Lady Conte visited Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center in Sevierville on Wednesday, led a walk in Knoxville on Thursday morning to benefit ChildHelp USA Children’s Center of East Tennessee, and concluded her swing through East Tennessee with a visit to New Hope Blount County Child Advocacy Center in Maryville on Thursday afternoon.
“April will be National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and I think it’s particularly important to act now to raise awareness of this issue and to encourage communities to support the work of Child Advocacy Centers,” Conte said.
When she became First Lady of Tennessee, one of Conte’s priorities was to help establish a child advocacy center in each of the 31 judicial districts across the state. In 2003, there were 25 Child Advocacy Centers. Today there are 43 centers statewide.
Safe Harbor serves Cocke, Grainger, Jefferson and Sevier Counties. Conte visited the center in Sevierville to learn about Safe Harbor’s plans to expand with two new centers in Newport and Jefferson City. The Newport center in Cocke County is expected to open on a part-time basis by the fist of May. The Jefferson City center in Jefferson County is expected to open by mid-summer.
In Knoxville, Conte kicked off a series of 12 AndreaWalks events that will be held in March, April and May to educate families about the issue of child abuse in Tennessee and the availability of services for victims. The walk to support ChildHelp USA is the first event in this year’s AndreaWalks series. Conte launched the AndreaWalks initiative in 2004, walking more than 600 miles from Memphis to Bristol and raising approximately $1.4 million in cash and in-kind donations for Child Advocacy Centers across the state.
At New Hope in Maryville, the First Lady met with staff and board members who presented the “Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth Small Print Media Award” to Blount Today for its ongoing coverage of children’s issues. The First Lady was also briefed about an awareness event New Hope is planning in November to be held in conjunction with the World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse.
“There are a lot of good things going on in East Tennessee and it has been wonderful to see the good work that’s being done by Safe Harbor, ChildHelp USA and New Hope to serve children who are the victims of abuse,” said Conte.
To learn more about the work of Child Advocacy Centers to keep children safe, visit www.tncac.org.