LIHUE — Residents rallied around the rotunda on Monday to bring about awareness and prevention of child abuse and sexual assault.
Life’s Choices Kauai and other groups hosted the rally at the Lihue Civic Center Mo‘ikeha Rotunda in recognition of April being National Alcohol Awareness Month, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
“This coming together is about protecting our people and looking for ways to be kind and compassionate and respectful of each other,” said councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura. “It’s bringing us together to remember what’s really important in life.”
Nearly 50 citizens attended the afternoon event despite the intermittent rain, including pastors, police officers, county officials and parents, many wearing blue as a symbol of their support.
Tom Lindsey of Wailua Homesteads was there to connect with other people and network with community agencies.
“I’m a dad, I love my children,” he said. “I love for them to be safe and nurtured and have a future.”
“Our kids are our future, but the future is here now,” he added. “I want to be a good dad, I’m here because I have good parents.”
Proclamations were presented by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.
“Alcohol abuse, sexual violence, and child abuse — these devastating issues affect all individuals, families and communities on Kauai,” Carvalho said. “Each has its own complexities, and Kauai faces a continuing need to support community-based programs to ensure that families receive needed services.”
One organization there, which also works everyday to end sexual assault and all forms of violence, was YWCA.
“We want everybody to know we’re here, and all of our efforts, everybody joining together, make our community safer and healthier for everyone,” said YWCA Executive Director Renae Hamilton-Cambeilh. “I’m really happy to be a part of that, because these are all active partners making it better for our keiki and adults.”
Zonta Clubs of Kauai and Hanalei were issued proclamations for Denim Day on April 25.
“Zonta’s mission is to say no to violence against women and girls,” said Edith Ignacio-Neumiller, past president of Zonta Club of Kauai. “So by wearing the jeans on Denim Day makes a statement that we don’t tolerate it.”
National Denim Day was triggered by a ruling from the Italian Supreme Court when a rape conviction was overturned, because justices ruled that the victim must have helped remove her tight jeans, thereby implying consent. Women of the Italian Parliament protested the decision by wearing jeans to work.
“It sparked this international awareness and movement,” said Karen Abubo, president of the Zonta Club of Hanalei. “It’s a day of recognition for women who’ve suffered sexual abuse.”
The event closed with the garden planting of pinwheels in support of child abuse prevention. Kona winds visited the rally just in time to make the blue pinwheels whirl and hum in the warm breeze.
“In the spirit of breaking down silos, we believe that we can make a difference in the lives of young children and their families by supporting each other,” said Theresa Koki, Life’s Choices Kauai coordinator.