The Worry Wall

On Friday, I had the huge privilege of going on a tour of the Childhelp Children’s Center of Arizona, located in downtown Phoenix.

From the outside, the building is unassuming; you’d never know that more than 36,000 child abuse and neglect cases were processed through this very building last year alone.

Let that sink in for a minute: 36,000 cases…in one year…in one center.

Often, this is the first stop for Phoenix’s Child Protective Services and others also bring children who are in danger to the center.

The moment I walked in, I experienced a wave of emotion. I immediately felt a sense of sadness, considering all of the terrible reasons why this place even existed. Looking around after a minute though, my heart warmed as I noticed the stuffed animals sprinkled around the room and the personal touches throughout the place that made it more inviting, downplaying all else.

First, our group was taken to the play room (pictured below).

Between the colorful mural of the farm and all of the animals, to the dress up closet packed with frilly skirts, stacks of hats and other play items, you could see how the Childhelp Advocacy Center was a haven.

I have to say though, this was the happiest place in the whole building.

Next, our tour guide walked us to a row of beautifully painted and decorated exam rooms where pediatricians evaluate the health of every child brought in to the center. As we entered a room decorated with mermaids and Nemo (my son’s favorite movie at the moment – pictured right) my heart sank as I saw a professional photographer’s camera attached to the exam room’s table.

This was where pediatricians also collected evidence. Bruises. Scars. Bites. Scratches. All the pictures are taken to help build a case to advocate for the child.

Then we saw the Southwestern-themed room with a teddy bear seated in the room. This is where the children are interviewed, but the teddy bear isn’t for comfort; it’s a tool a child can use to demonstrate what has been done to them and where.

Next, we climbed the stairs and encountered dozens of small, sardine-like cubicles housing detectives, lieutenants, and other officers who help sort through the cases and collect evidence. All of the positions are taken care of by grants. All of the rest of the workers in the facility are also funded by grants and they have a number of volunteers who endure a grueling training period and commit to volunteering for at least six months.

For me, after seeing a number of therapy rooms designed to help the kids process through their experiences, one room really hit me hard.

The Worry Wall

Taped to one side of the room was “The Worry Wall,” where children are encouraged to write their biggest worry on a Post-It note and tack it to the wall, leaving it there to defeat their fears.

“My step dad.”

“Being alone with a man.”

“Bruises.”

(There’s a much higher ratio of girls to boys that are brought in, especially ages 4 to 6.)

What are your worries? I know mine can’t compare.

So, this is what your dollars go to. For every dollar you give, 90 cents of each goes directly to funding the programs that assist these kids and help them recover from such devastating situations.

Please donate to Childhelp and support me as I raise $5,000 for the organization to run the Boston Marathon on April 18.

You can donate by visiting my “Donate” page at the top and all donations are 100 percent tax-deductible and will immediately go directly to the organization.

Thank you for supporting this worthwhile organization. If you’re in the Phoenix area, I strongly suggest that you take this 1-hour tour. Let me know if you’re interested.

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