It takes a village to raise a child—sometimes literally, says Sharon Eberhard, Community Outreach Specialist for Life Stories Child & Family Advocacy.
Developmental research shows that children who experience trauma are more likely to have lifelong negative impacts on their health and wellbeing, but regular access to trusted adults in their community can help them overcome their experiences. Adult advocates can save their lives.
“When we connect an advocate with a kid, these children are more likely to be successful,” Sharon says. “They complete their education, go on to secondary education, avoid homelessness and pregnancy, if they’ve got support and know that someone is listening to them.”
The Life Stories Child & Family Advocacy organization seeks to connect those advocates here in Greeley to children of all ages who have been abused and neglected.
“Over 4,000 youth are assessed for abuse each year in Weld County. That’s just assessed; we don’t know about the non-calls … And what we do is give them a voice,” Sharon.
Through Life Stories’ three initiatives—the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Program, the Child Advocacy Center, and Darkness to Light—children, non-offending family members, and community leaders can access resources like abuse prevention training, trauma counseling, life skills education, as well as court case support.
“So many times, victims have been forced to behave like a parent or adult. We want to help them still be kids.”
Part of helping kids be kids means creating opportunities for joy in their lives.
That’s why many of Life Stories’ community events focus on themes of wonder and delight, like July’s Big Balloon Build, the international immersive balloon festival that came to Colorado for the first time ever and raised money for the organization. The Superhero Run, which takes place annually in September at the Greeley Family FunPlex (1501 65th Avenue), features live music, a family carnival, and costume contests in addition to a 5K and 10K walk/run.
All these efforts work together to help vulnerable children grow into healthy, successful adults with access to safe and permanent housing and support. In the video below, Sharon speaks about the Life Stories mission and how it’s been successful over the years.
Life Stories is always seeking volunteers, whether you’re a community leader who would like prevention training through Darkness to Light, you’d like to become a CASA volunteer, or you want to donate your time and resources at one of their many events. Learn more and find out if you’re eligible to help at www.LifesStoriesWeld.org.