Walk in My Shoes: Week 4

Hey friends!

I can’t believe we’re already on week 4 already!! This week we journeyed through Melbourne, Deland, Daytona, Ocala, Gainesville, Green Cove Springs and St. Augustine…shout out to the advocacy centers, organizations, survivors and supporters who joined us this past week 🙂

We began week 4 with another visit from our Bikers Against Child Abuse friends while walking Melbourne. It’s good to know that even the “tough guys” are working hard to protect our children and I truly appreciate their support.

Since one of our legislative agendas this year is the expansion of my curriculum to grades 1 – 5, I felt really glad to have the opportunity to lead a training of my Safer, Smarter Kids curriculum at the Early Learning Coalition in Daytona Beach. Getting this curriculum out is so critical because it will help kids become the first line of defense against abuse (and psssst…if you didn’t know, the curriculum has shown to improve children’s knowledge of critical personal safety information by 77%!).

I think one of my favorite stops this week was in Ocala. This is my fourth year walking through this city, but the first time I’ve been able to interact with and ride the horses the town is famous for. The horses I met were not just any ordinary horses; they were used in equestrian therapy to help kids with issues stemming from abuse, disability or trauma. The kids bond with the horses and learn to trust them. While we were visiting with our friends in Ocala, we met a survivor who suffered at the hands of a family member. Through equestrian therapy, this little girl was able to find the strength to confront her abuser in court and get this individual sentenced to 20 years in prison. This is only one example of why work they are doing here in Ocala is so important.

While I am sad that there are only two weeks left of my 2013 Walk in My Shoes journey, I am so very excited to reach Jacksonville, Fernandina Beach, Perry, and the Panhandle next week. After that, it’s off to the Capital City for the final mile & Rally in Tally!

As they say in Gainesville…Later Gator!

Lauren