Advocacy Through Art

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The Scioto County Courthouse was buzzing last week with things people might be interested in learning. On Tuesday, women lobbying for parity on Equal Pay Day were at the courthouse, and right beside them was an eye-catching display of posters from local schools, and a lighted tree with hearts in support of National Crime Victim’s Rights Week.

The display was made possible through the Scioto County Prosecutor’s Office victim advocates Karen Warren and Amber Davis. Last week was also National Crime Victims Rights Week, and Warren said, “I wanted to get local students involved.” She contacted the local schools’ art teachers and asked them if they and their art students would be interested in making a poster on a specific crime. The artists could choose the crime they wanted as their focus.

Warren asked them to keep in mind that this year’s theme was to expand the circle to all victims. The points stressed with this were Branches of Strength, Words of Encouragement, Victims Reaching Beyond, and Roots of Support and Healing.

“These students went above and beyond what I expected,” Warren said. “I don’t know how many times the teachers have thanked me for thinking of them to participate in this week. We had the kickoff on Monday with the Scioto County Commissioners declaring the week as National Crime Victim’s Week. We had all the students and their teachers there. We recognized them and had a certificate presented to them by law enforcement officers. I had contacted each law enforcement agency and asked if they could send an officer to represent that agency, to be there as well. We probably had 60 to 70 people in attendance, it was wonderful.”

Warren continued, “The students were just so excited, and New Boston had their poster on drug abuse and they used two models in their pictures who were actually students from New Boston, a third grader and a sophomore, and I asked Mary Hess, the art teacher, if she could bring them with her as well. The little girl was just so excited that we included her in the ceremony. I’ve already received an email from Anne Caudill, the art teacher from Minford, that their kids were so involved in their chosen crime, bullying, that they are going to extend it for the rest of the year. She also asked me when we knew the theme for next year, that she’s going to build her curriculum around that theme. She and her students were very moved by it. I was just amazed by these students”

Warren, Victims Advocates program coordinator, along with Davis, another victim’s advocate in the prosecutor’s office, worked diligently to make the display special for all who came into the courthouse.

“We worked together on this, and Amber had the idea for the tree with the hearts. We wanted people who came into the courthouse to add a word of encouragement and hang it on the tree, or if they had a family member that was affected by a crime that is still surviving or didn’t survive that crime, to put their name on the tree. We will use that tree every year,” Warren said.

Warren has only been at her job for three months. She was asked what she would do to reach out to the community, and she decided that there are so many students who deal with some type of issue at home or at school, she wanted to do something like this. Warren also said that some of the students are asking if they can be some type of advocate at school. Warren welcomes the opportunity to get an advocacy program started next year.

“Sometimes a student that is struggling will feel more comfortable talking to an older student than going to an adult figure.” Warren explained that as part of their job, she and Davis go to court and make sure if the victim attends, that the victim’s rights are heard and dealt with, and make sure there are resources to help them emotionally, financially, etc. “It is very rewarding.”

When students get involved, it seems, things about which they have strong feelings get shared, and they are able to get the younger generation to join in their cause. It takes someone to start with a cause, and then they can reach out to others to help.

Savannah Moore's artwork was Clay's representative.

Daily Times article & 10TV video

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