Child abuse is still a rampant problem in the world. Kids Hub Child Advocacy Center, a non-profit child advocacy organization in Hattiesburg, MS, hopes to one day make that a thing of the past.
Thoroughout the years it has been active, Kids Hub has utilized an integrative team approach for addressing child abuse. Their multifaceted approach uses advocacy, education and referrals to prevent child abuse and help those currently suffering. By doing so, Kids Hub provides forensic interviews and victim advocacy services to child victims of abuse and their non-offending caregivers.
Kids Hub provides forensic interviews and victim advocacy services to help children and non-offending caregivers alike. In particular, they make it so children have a comfortable place to open up about the abuse they’ve suffered.
When an abused child shares their story, especially if their abuser goes to court, they have to disclose very personal information to a variety of different people. This may instill many more emotions and fears into those children who have already faced a traumatic event. Kids Hub, like other Child Advocacy Centers, try to reduce the number of times a child has to share their story with adults who are, by and large, strangers to them.
To help make this process easier, the team will provide toys and stuffed animals to entertain and preoccupy these children, so they aren’t so afraid during their forensic interview and/or their time at the center. Kids Hub in particular provides a special Teddy Bear Closet full of stuffed animals for children to adopt and take home.
“The Teddy Bear closet is one of my favorite features at Kids Hub,” said DiDi Ellis, Executive Director of Kids Hub Child Advocacy Center. “When kids come to see us, they tell us some pretty terrible things they have experienced, but these teddy bears at the end of their visit help to end our time with them on a positive note. The bears seem so simple, but the kids truly adore this part of the visit.”
The stuffed animal each child adopts not only provides comfort, but can also be used as a positive symbol of their experience at the child advocacy center.
“From time to time, [especially] for some of the little kids, I will take them and their teddy bear around the office and have people fill them full of hugs,” Ellis said. “I tell them [that,] if they ever need a hug, squeeze the bear tight and the one we put in will just pop out.”
In order for Kids Hub to stuff their closet with an assortment of stuffed animals, they hold donation drives throughout the year. Anyone can donate a new or gently used stuffed animal to Kids Hub’s Teddy Bear Closet by dropping off or shipping them to Kids Hub Child Advocacy Center at 22 Millbranch Rd. STE 1000, Hattiesburg, MS 39402. All of these donations will be sanitized by a team at the center before being placed in the Teddy Bear Closet.
Another amazing way to donate is by purchasing a Teddy Gram in honor of a loved one for Valentine’s Day. These donations will provide a new teddy bear to a child who visits the center, as well as provide your loved one with a Valentine’s Day card stating a donation has been made to the Teddy Bear Closet in their honor.
“Seeing the excitement of a child while picking out a stuffed animal is one of the most amazing parts of my day,” said Macy Mitchell, Community Outreach Educator of Kids Hub Child Advocacy Center. “The giggles and the smiles that are expressed during this time are inspiring[,] and a great reminder that[,] despite the horrors [they] have faced, at the end of the day [these] are still children.”
The Teddy Grams are $10 each and will be sold until February 28th. Anyone who is interested in purchasing a Teddy Gram can visit https://kidshubms.networkforgood.com/events/26715-valentine-s-teddy-grams. They can also find information on how to support Kids Hub Child Advocacy Center through their social media pages on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.