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Guardians of the Children P.E.I. blue ribbon campaign raises awareness for child abuse

Nadia Lannigan, 7, of Winsloe hangs a blue ribbon on a shrub in Joe Ghiz Park in Charlottetown as part of the Guardians of the Children blue ribbon campaign which raises awareness for child abuse.
Nadia Lannigan, 7, of Winsloe hangs a blue ribbon on a shrub in Joe Ghiz Park in Charlottetown as part of the Guardians of the Children blue ribbon campaign which raises awareness for child abuse. - Katherine Hunt
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

There’s a large shrub at the corner of Joe Ghiz Park in Charlottetown that is now adorned with blue ribbons.

They were placed there this past Sunday as a reminder that child abuse is a serious issue that many youth face every day.

“Child abuse has existed since time has,” said Grimm, president of the Guardians of the Children P.E.I., the group that organizes the awareness campaign.

“With more knowledge that society gains, the more acceptable to talk about it becomes. When a child talks about it, that’s empowering a child.”

Members of the Guardians of the Children go by a nickname. It is a precaution in case a child they mentor is called to testify in court. The child knows the GOC member only by the nickname so that member can’t be subpoenaed but can still be present in the courtroom, supporting the child.

About a dozen members of the P.E.I. chapter, along with other supporters and friends, showed their support by being part of this year’s blue ribbon campaign at Joe Ghiz Park. Organized by the Guardians of the Children P.E.I., it acts to raise awareness of child abuse while also falling in line with the start of the biking season.

“Child abuse has existed since time has. With more knowledge that society gains, the more acceptable to talk about it becomes. When a child talks about it, that’s empowering a child.”

- Grimm, president of the Guardians of the Children P.E.I.

The Guardians of the Children P.E.I. is a non-profit motorcycle organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse, including physical, sexual, verbal abuse and bullying.

“We will not tolerate child abuse,” said Grimm. “We’re there for the child – and the child only – and we want to empower that child to give that child that confidence that they’ve lost and try to replace as much innocence as we can based on our own experiences.”

April is chosen as Child Abuse Awareness Month by a majority of the chapters across Canada and the U.S.

Every time someone sees a tree with blue ribbons, the GOC hopes people will think of protecting children of child abuse.

“Over time, people will know it’s a child abuse awareness ribbon. It’s a process that we hope we’ll see take off in our time.”

Grimm said one in every five boys and one in three girls are sexually abused, according to national statistics.

“It’s not uncommon, it’s just not spoken about,” he said.

Grimm said children often find people who drive motorcycles to be tough, and they appreciate being able to relate to members of the GOC and see their futures can still be bright.

“When a child sees, ‘he’s this fella and he was abused, too, and he rides a motorcycle and he’s a tough guy’, that opens up another door of faith that something is better down that road for them.”

The organization started on P.E.I. two years ago and has 12 members. It has grown to develop a P.E.I. West chapter, which also has 12 members.

The P.E.I. West chapter will hold its blue ribbon event at Holland College in Alberton this Sunday at 2 p.m.

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