Every April, the Child Advocacy Center recognizes National Child Abuse Prevention Month by strengthening connections with the Suffolk County community. Acknowledging the uniqueness of the last year, the CAC sought to create a tangible community-wide project that reflects today’s challenges. This year’s project — a collection of feathers adorned with messages of resilience — empowers youth to persevere in times of crisis.
Spreading a Message of Resiliency
The Mural of Resilience has a powerful message at its core.
CAC Community Educator Keryn Lemp put it this way: “Teaching our youth the lessons that go with resiliency – that it is okay to feel stressed, that we all have vulnerabilities that seem impossible to surmount sometimes, and that together we can overcome what feels like a never-ending situation.”
Inspiration Drawn from a Poem
Inspiration for the Mural of Resilience was drawn from the first verse of an Emily Dickinson poem:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
The poem, “Hope” is the thing with feathers – (314), was chosen because it aligns with the CAC’s mission – to provide a safe, child-friendly location for the active investigations of sexual and physical abuse victims of child abuse.
“We want these children to continue to have hope and survive their traumatic experiences, and we also wished to convey the message that their community does care about their survival,” said Lemp.
Feathers Join Together to Make Wings
The collection of feathers adorned with messages of resilience, including “Perseverance,” “Believe in Yourself,” and “Have Hope,” forms a pair of wings that symbolically bring all the participants together.
An Educational Experience
Some of the children who participated in this mural project completed a workshop where they learned about building their own resiliency and those of others.
They also learned that many families in our Children & Youth programs experience significant stress and may not have access to necessities, such as food and warm clothes. Vulnerable families like these can benefit from extra help and support in building resilience so that they can raise stronger, more confident children.
The words and phrases written on the Mural of Resilience’s feathers aim to provide inspiration and encouragement to all who visit the CAC.
“As a group, we talked about what would make them happy on a bad day if they were to see one of these feathers – what color or colors would it be, what would it say?” said Lemp. “Most of these feathers were made by the youth of Suffolk County, for the youth of Suffolk County.”
Community Support Makes Mural Possible
For the families who visit the CAC, the Mural of Resilience represents the overwhelming support of community members who care. It strongly relates to the message of Child Abuse Prevention Month.
“We need to let them know that they can persevere, they have strength, confidence, and bravery – everything and more written on these feathers, so they know the trusting adults in their lives who are there to help build resilience in them,” said Lemp.
Since April 19, the Mural of Resilience has been on display at EAC Network’s Child Advocacy Center in Central Islip. Contact EAC Network today to learn more about the CAC or any of our other innovative programs and services.