Break the Chain is an event spanning all of Cumberland County. The event has been held for over 20 years and recognizes April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Fort Bragg’s Army Community Service, Family Advocacy Program, team attend this event each year as a community partner and as a means of connecting to those military Families who live off post.
“We want to build that partnership in the community, so we are all in one accord trying to protect children,” said ACS Director, Barbara Trower-Simpkins.
FAP donated 200 pinwheels and 300 gift bags containing parent education and child safety materials for the event held at the Charlie Rose Agri-Expo Center, Friday, according to Thomas M. Hill, program manager, FAP, ACS.
In attendance alongside ACS, were various youth-serving organizations from across Cumberland County, who also provided promotional and educational items for the children, parents, educators and civil servants in attendance.
The event was child driven, with children representing schools across the county. Fort Bragg’s Mildred B. Poole Elementary School Chorus performed the songs “Kindness” and “We All Need Peace.”
Garrison Commander Col. Kyle A. Reed spoke to the crowd, but primarily addressed the children in attendance.
The people gathered at the Charlie Rose Agri-Expo Center were there to help the children achieve, he explained.
“They are all here to help you grow, develop and mature into … whatever your goals and dreams and aspirations are,” Reed said.
Reed thanked those in attendance for efforts towards awareness and building a community which supports and protects children. He spoke of unity and community partnership.
“It is also a unique opportunity to expand the partnership and interaction of the community at large because I don’t think anyone of us can do this alone. So, you have our commitment from Fort Bragg and the community for which we serve to help you and assist you,” said Reed.
After Reed spoke to the crowd, Carolina Merino, a local artist, and speed painter crafted a painting of a lighthouse to music.
“I chose to paint a lighthouse at night because lighthouses signify safety. Its purpose is to help those out at sea return to a safe place by standing tall and shining bright in darkness. Life is full of storms, and we all need a lighthouse to help give us hope and guide us safely to shore,” Merino said.
District Court Judge, Honorable Edward A. Pone, announced and presented the 2018 Champion for Children Awards for the volunteer, professional and group categories.
“They set examples and serve as role models … a wise person once said, ‘our children are a message that we send into a time that we will never see.’ The folks that will receive this award today, and those that were nominated, are folks who are working to send positive messages into our community and into our futures,” Pone said.
The event closed with children lining the room with paper chains. Across the room the paper chains were broken, symbolizing breaking the chain of abuse.
When exiting the event attendees were invited to plant a pinwheel in a pinwheel garden in front of the venue.
“The pinwheels represent the bright future that every child deserves,” explained Faith Boehmer, prevention and volunteer coordinator, Child Advocacy Center, Inc.