Greater Tulsa Reporter
ENCOURAGING STRENGTH: Rebecca Thompson, left, and Jessica Zimmerman, co-chairs of the fourth annual Child Abuse Network’s Superhero Challenge, pose in their superhero capes in promotion of the event, to be held April 2 at PostOak Lodge and Retreat, 5323 W. 31st St. N.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
In its efforts to continue to raise awareness of child abuse, the Child Abuse Network (CAN) will hold its fourth annual CAN Superhero Challenge on Sunday, April 2 at POSTOAK Lodge and Retreat, 5323 W. 31st St. N.
The event consists of a half-mile and mile run and a Fun Zone.
“The event is about giving kids encouragement and courage, to help them feel powerful, like a superhero,” says Brandi Moore, CAN community relations manager.
In Tulsa county, one in 15 children are involved in a child abuse investigation, she continues, and kids talk to other kids, which, then, affects more kids.
Therefore, the primary focus for the event is to encourage families to talk about the subject of abuse and what children should do if it happens to them or if they hear about it happening to someone else.
“It’s a subject that we don’t like to talk about, but we have to in order to help the kids,” says Moore.
Event organizers, including co-chairs Jessica Zimmerman and Rebecca Thompson, expect to see close to 1,000 attend. The family-focused event has continued to grow year after year, from 250 participants in its inaugural year.
The event will begin at 1 p.m. with the opening of its Fun Zone, with inflatables, face painting and other activities, and the start of its first run, with runs staggered throughout the afternoon.
Children seven years old and younger are welcome to participate in the half-mile run; kids ages eight and older can run in the mile-long course.
The courses are filled with easy obstacles and are not only for kids but for families as well, notes Thompson. “Parents often like to run with their children and to run as a family.”
The runs are not timed, and all children receive a medal.
In order to further encourage the superhero mentality and to increase the fun of the event, organizers encourage children to don superhero costumes.
To further spread its message, CAN makes an intentional effort to be active with area schools.
“Schools are one reason why we have eyes and ears,” Moore says. “They are on the forefront of saving kids’ lives and keeping them safe.”
CAN will award the school with the highest number of participants with $500.
Zimmerman, a mother of four, got involved with CAN after moving to Tulsa about four years ago.
“I loved learning about CAN and its mission to be a one-stop place for a child who has suffered abuse,” she says.
“And at the event, it’s wonderful to see the families come out together, being active together and supporting a great cause.”
CAN, located at 2829 S. Sheridan Rd., began in 1988 and serves as a centralized location for all agencies that investigate and prosecute child abuse.
The child is able to tell his/her story one time and, because all agencies are on site, the child does not have to be re-traumatized by repeating the story over and over again to multiple agencies, Moore says.
“You can often see the relief lift off their shoulders after they’ve spoken to us.”