The Whitley County Health Department’s annual Child Abuse Prevention Walk in Corbin on Saturday sought to bring awareness to child abuse in the community.
The walk is an annual event to build up awareness in the community that everybody has the ability to do something to help a child, said Kathy Lay, a health educator at the Whitley County Health Department.
“If you have that opportunity to help a child, or you see something, you need to report it,” said Lay.
The Corbin walk is one of four that takes places throughout the year. Each year, two walks happen for child abuse prevention while another two occur for suicide awareness. One of each walk takes place in Corbin with the other taking place in Williamsburg.
Savanna McKiney, a victim’s service educator, advocate and community engagement specialist at Cumberland River Behavioral Health in Corbin said the reason she joined the walk was because, “I love my community.”
“I grew up in a really poor area, and my mom was a teacher. I saw a lot of that side of the violence in homes that you normally wouldn’t see,” said McKiney. “When I was younger, people didn’t really know what to look for. The more that we can show and make trauma informed decisions, and let everybody know what to look for, it would make things a lot better.”
McKiney said Kentucky is the leading state for child abuse, and through the walk, she was trying to raise awareness about things community members can do to prevent child abuse.
Corbin and Williamsburg are both green dot communities. Green dot is a program that focuses on interpersonal violence such as bullying, dating violence and child abuse.
“It gives community members resources and ways to stop violence from happening and intervening in the moment,” said McKiney.
Also participating in the walk was 82nd District State Rep. Regina Huff,
“There are so many [children] that are struggling,” said Huff. “[This is] especially important since our kids have been off the radar [since school closures], and I think that we need to continually raise awareness.”
Huff said, “As state representative, I want to represent the people, and I want to make a difference. That is the only reason I do this job. It is important to me to be involved in events that could have an impact on the lives of children.”
“I think we need to be cautious and looking,” said Huff. “I know that it is a taboo subject and people are afraid of getting involved, but you can do so without any reference to name. I think it is important that we raise that awareness and allow people to understand that we all have a role to play in protecting these children that can’t protect themselves.”
Long time Corbin resident, Kenneth Cumpston said he joined the walk to make a statement.
“I know with the COVID, kids have kind of been left out of the situation. This is an area where child abuse is at its worst in the country anyway,” said Cumpston. “I felt like today was a good day to come out and make a statement about how I feel about what’s going on with the kids.”
He said during the walk he enjoyed getting the opportunity to converse with Rep. Huff.
“[I enjoyed] just getting to talk with our representative and seeing where she stands in this. Knowing that the people here and our politicians and people in this community are concerned with what is going on and just not overlooking it is important to me,” said Cumpston.
Saturday’s walk was the first one he had participated in.
For community members who were unable to attend the walk on April 17, the Whitley County Health Department is hosting another opportunity, this time in Williamsburg, on April 24. The walk will begin at noon at Bill Woods Park. Registration starts at 11:30. T-shirts will be available on a first come, first serve basis. The walk will take place rain or shine unless it is storming.