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Protecting our children
Prevent Child Abuse Newton to hold awareness fair April 4
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In honor of National Child Abuse Awareness Month in April, Prevent Child Abuse Newton Director Sheena Berry has organized an awareness festival as well as her organization’s signature fundraiser for Saturday.

The awareness festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at The Church at Covington. Representatives from a variety of family-oriented organizations serving the local area will be on hand at Saturday’s festival to provide attendees with information about their services. Food vendors, church choirs, The Archmen band and children’s activities will be highlights of the festival.

A motorcycle ride fundraiser also is scheduled for Saturday. Bikers will line up at 9 a.m. in front of the old Wal-Mart building and embark on a 55 minute journey ending at The Church at Covington. The cost to ride per bike is $15.

"So the cost is not too much during these economic times and it’s a worthy cause," Berry said.

Leading up to the festival Berry and volunteers placed pinwheels in different areas across Covington to represent each report of child abuse in Newton County in 2008. Last year the Newton County Sheriff’s Office reported 1,179 instances of child abuse. Berry said that figure was down from 1,333 in 2007.

"I’m so hopeful that we are making a difference in the lives of families we touch," Berry said.

Funds raised during Saturday’s bike ride will go toward funding Prevent Child Abuse Newton’s parenting programs. Currently, the organization facilitates two 12-week parenting courses on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Allen Memorial United Methodist Church and West Newton Elementary School, respectively.

Berry said her organization also is offering a teen parenting course this fall after school at Newton High School as well as reinstating their Nurturing Father’s program for inmates at the Newton County Detention Center.

According to Berry, the cost of offering one three-month program is around $7,000.

"That’s because these are not fly-by-night parenting programs," Berry said. "They are well researched and all our instructors go through a training process."

Berry said all Prevent Child Abuse Newton parenting programs teach parents the importance of spending quality time with family and how to do so.

"The word is out there now, since we’ve been out there for five years," Berry said, "and people are looking for solutions -- and we want to be part of the solution."