$1.5 Million Donated to End Child Abuse

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Several big name donors and a group of kids are working to put an end to child abuse in the area.

Money, raised by the NorthWest Arkansas Community College Foundation, will go toward the Southern Region National Child Protection Training Center on the NWACC campus in Bentonville.

Among the donors was a group of sixth graders from the First Lutheran School of Fort Smith who raised money for the cause.

"Children are leading the way and perhaps those of us who are grownups can learn a lot from these kids, they understand that those who work closest with children, those who may be called on to detect, diagnose, respond to a case of child abuse should be well trained," said Victor Vieth, the National Child Protection Training Center Executive Director.

The Southern Region National Child Protection Training Center at NWACC began operations in 2010 and has delivered training to thousands of law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, social workers and others.

“Having the new state-of-the-art facility in place will enable the center to train current and future child protection professionals and equip them with the latest techniques in identifying and eliminating child abuse situations,” according to a news release.

The money will transform the former oncology building, now owned by the NWACC Foundation, into a state of the art facility used to train child protection professionals.

The Walton Family Foundation donated $100,000, Mel and Vicki Redman $25,000, the Bogle family $30,000, John and Emily Douglas $25,000, Johnelle Hunt $25,000, and the First Lutheran School Student Council donated $401. 61.

"We have a chapel service every Wednesday and that's just where we sing songs to praise God and we have an offering and every month's a different place that the offering goes to and this month we sent it to the National Child Protection Center," said John Freeny, a sixth grade student at First Lutheran School.

According to the National Child Protection Center, every year, across the nation, 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 3 girls are sexually abused before turning 18.

Melba Shewmaker wants that to eradicate that statistic.

"When young people are so concerned, adults really need to take this problem to heart," Shewmaker said.

The Southern Region National Child Protection Training Center will cost $3 million.

Organizers said foundation is seventy five percent of the way there but they are still short $800,000.

Once all of the money is raised, the renovation should take about 8 months.

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