This week the Walk in My Shoes journey travelled through Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Every year, when we walk through Broward I feel like I am coming home, and this year was not an exception. The community has embraced our cause and continually works to make Broward a safer and smarter place for children. I grew up here, I survived here and this is where I learned to thrive – Broward will always be home. Thank you for welcoming me back with open arms!
It means so much to have the support of the Miami Heat and the Miami Dolphins. These organizations have gone above and beyond to amplify the message that it is always OK to tell, for survivors in South Florida and beyond. I am grateful for the amazing people within these organizations and their dedication to protecting children. Check out the photos below of Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra walking with us and Miami Dolphin representatives including Diane Philbin at a Lauren’s Kingdom book signing.
This year has been extra special because it is the first year we have had a children’s book to share with kids and parents while on the Walk. Lauren’s Kingdom shares the message to children that, “If you’re choking back tears and your heart’s filled with fears…You know very well, it’s OK to tell.” We have had several book readings along this journey and will continue to have more. Check out future dates here.
On this journey we have had the opportunity to teach children what it means to be an advocate and that they have the power to speak up and use their voices to create change. These young advocates have truly inspired us, and we can’t wait to connect with three of them for a career day in May!
One of my favorite highlights from this week was walking with M.U.J.E.R. and chanting, “So se puede” – “Yes we can!” An equally special moment was our visit this week with the PACE Center for Girls Miami.
A special “coming home” moment happened for me this week as the Walk travelled through the University of Miami campus. While receiving my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in education from UM, I developed the skills I used to create the Lauren’s Kids Safer, Smarter Kids personal safety curriculum.
Shining light in dark places is the reason we walk the 1,500 miles across the state of Florida every year. I am reminded of this continually during the Walk in My Shoes journey. The candlelight vigil at Bloomingdale’s was one of those moments that I stopped to take a look around and thought about the amazing people who showed up to shine a light in the dark place of child sexual abuse.
This week would not have been complete without a party with DJ Irie! We had a great time!
Despite the physical exhaustion at the close of week one, I am more than ready to tackle week two and continue raising awareness about child sexual abuse and helping survivors heal. We head into week two with rejuvenated strength because it shouldn’t hurt to be a child – and all too often it does.
We are continually grateful to our amazing supporters. There are several people and organizations that have made this week what it is and we could not do it without them! We are especially thankful to have the support of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association and Broward County law enforcement.