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Step Up, Speak Out rally Oct. 9

<p>photo by KENNETH FRY</p><p><strong></strong>Planning the Oct. 9 Step Up, Speak Out event are (from left) Detective Steve Weaver of the Van Buren Police Department, Assistant Superintendent Kerry Schneider of the Van Buren School District and Chief Deputy Robert Presley of the Crawford County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.</p>

photo by KENNETH FRY

Planning the Oct. 9 Step Up, Speak Out event are (from left) Detective Steve Weaver of the Van Buren Police Department, Assistant Superintendent Kerry Schneider of the Van Buren School District and Chief Deputy Robert Presley of the Crawford County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

A Step Up, Speak Out event will be held Wednesday, Oct. 9, at the Boys and Girls Club in Van Buren.

The local event to increase awareness of child abuse is scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. on the club parking lot in the Louis Peer Memorial City Park, according to Cindy Faldon, boys and girls club director.

For kids, the rally will have games and activities, educational arts and crafts booths, and informative literature geared toward children. There will be free hot dogs, musical entertainment and give aways.

Adults can attend informative educational sessions that will teach them how to better protect children from abuse.

“We have a mission and a vision to stop child abuse in our community,” Faldon said.

The River Valley’s first Step Up, Speak Out event was organized two years ago by Jackie Hamilton of the Hamilton House and Sam T. Sicard of First National Bank and was held at University of Arkansas - Fort Smith. This year four block parties will be held in Fort Smith Oct. 9.

“We wanted to bring a block party to Crawford County,” Faldon said.

“The club is the perfect location for the first event,” said Debbie Thomas, one of the organizers. “The kids are already at the club. Hopefully, it will grow into something bigger.”

Crawford County Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Robert Presley will emcee the event.

Citizens Bank & Trust will grill hot dogs donated by Arkansas Food Bank. GFWC Women’s League of Van Buren and United Way of Fort Smith Area will each donate two bicyles. The four bikes and a Kindle Fire donated by Heritage United Methodist Church will be given away as door prizes.

Detective Donald Eversole of the Van Buren Police Department will conduct an Internet safety class for adults. The Van Buren Fire Department will bring a fire truck to the event.

Children will receive free T-shirts, coloring books and bracelets.

Lee Prince, a rapper and hip hop artist, and 357, a band which plays older rock ‘n roll, also will perform.

Faldon said civic clubs, businesses and other organizations are being recruited to set up booths and hand out informational brochures on child abuse awareness.

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