Honoring Blue Ribbon Champions for Children in the Commonwealth


HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV)  The Family Support Alliance in Harrisburg honored Blue Ribbon Champions in the Commonwealth. 

April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month.

The event held in the Capitol Rotunda honors those who dedicate themselves to the well being of children.

The grounds of the Capitol have 4,416 blue flags for each child abused in the Commonwealth.  Forty Six children died in the Commonwealth as a result of abuse.

Angela Liddle, President and CEO of the Family Support Alliance addressed the group.

Liddle will be the featured guest on Newsmakers, WBRE/WYOU’s Public Affair’s program on Sunday, April 8. The program will air at 6:30 am on WYOU and 11:30 am on WBRE.

 PA Family Support Alliance presents 2018 PA Blue Ribbon Champions for Safe Kids Awards at the PA State Capitol, April 4, 2018. Pictured left to right, front row: Karen Roland, VP, PSECU; Joyce Seitz, York, Pa.; Darryl Gibbs, Ephrata, Pa.; Angela M. Liddle, Pres., PA Family Support Alliance; Back row: George Merovich, Pres., Outdoor Advertising Association of PA; Megan King, West Chester, Pa.; Jo Ciavaglia, Levittown, Pa.; Jen Spry, Philadelphia, PA. 

Official Release

HARRISBURG, Pa. – As young performers raised voices of hope and inspiration at the State Capitol, Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance, the state leader in child protection, joined with PA’s largest credit union, PSECU, and the Outdoor Advertising Association of Pennsylvania to honor five PA Blue Ribbon Champions for Safe Kids for National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Rayonna Bellamy, Victoria LaBoy and Eli Weary, students at the Capital Area School for the Arts, and Newport High School choir Innovation joined Miss Pennsylvania 2017 Katie Schreckengast in summoning Pennsylvanians to put children first and protect them from harm. The ceremony took place against a backdrop of 4,416 blue ribbon flags planted around the Capitol, each one representing a child scarred by abuse in Pennsylvania, and a somber tribute to the 46 children who lost their lives to abuse in one year in the commonwealth. As students read about the lives of each lost child, other children placed empty shoes and baby booties on a table, reflecting the young journeys that had been violently cut short.

“The toll of abuse in this Commonwealth is almost too much to bear,” noted Angela M. Liddle, MPA, president and CEO of PFSA. “But we cannot let these failures define us nor defeat us in the mission of protecting children. Let us find in the voices of these young people with us today the strength we need to confront and stamp out child abuse in all its forms. That is why we celebrate the heroes among us; to ignite the spark within each of us that can save more children.”

“At PSECU, we were founded on the belief that everyone deserves opportunities for a better life. That’s why, working with Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance, we are committed to help build communities in which children can safely grow and thrive,” said PSECU Assistant Vice President Karen Roland. “We extend our sincere gratitude to this year’s PA Blue Ribbon Champions and to all of those individuals whose dedication promotes the well-being of children. Together, we can build a better tomorrow.”

An independent panel of judges, chaired by Pittsburgh attorney Ira Weiss, selected the honorees from nominations submitted statewide. 2018 PA Blue Ribbon Champions for Safe Kids Awards honorees are:

Jen Spry, RN, Philadelphia, Pa., for her professional advocacy as a nurse, educator, and motivational speaker who survived childhood sexual abuse and teaches others how to keep themselves and children safe from sexual trafficking. 

Megan King, Chester County Deputy District Attorney, West Chester, Pa., for her professional leadership of the county’s Child Abuse Unit and the Child Advocacy Center’s Multi-Disciplinary Team to investigate child abuse crimes, and educating high school students, teachers, and school administrators how to protect young people from online predators.

Darryl Gibbs, SBS Prevention Educator, The Cynthia Gibbs Foundation, Ephrata, Pa., for turning his sorrow over the killing of his baby daughter into volunteer advocacy to educate parents and save other children from Shaken Baby Syndrome and abuse.

Joyce Seitz, Volunteer Group Facilitator, Children’s Aid Society-The Lehman Center, York, Pa., for her 17 years of caring service as a volunteer facilitating weekly support meetings for parents.

George Merovich, president of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Pennsylvania, presented the first-ever PA Blue Ribbon Media Champion for Safe Kids Award to Jo Ciavaglia, enterprise reporter at The Bucks County Courier Times and The Intelligencer, Levittown,Pa., for her dogged coverage of violence committed against children and exposing shortcomings in the child welfare system and Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) joined PFSA in encouraging Pennsylvanians to participate today in #WearBlueDay to promote Child Abuse Prevention. DHS Secretary Teresa Miller presented a proclamation from Gov. Tom Wolf designating April Child Abuse Prevention Month in Pa. “Pennsylvania children are a priority for Governor Wolf and their safety is of the utmost importance to the administration and everyone here today,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “It is important for us to stand together and support this critical cause. We must continue to be the voice for these individuals who are often unable to be heard. All Pennsylvanians have an obligation to protect and keep our children safe.” 

John T. Adams, Esq., president of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and Berks Co. D.A., echoed the need for individual accountability. “For those of us in public service, there is no greater calling than to safeguard the innocence of Pennsylvania’s children. We send a very clear message today through these awards that we all can and must become Champions for Children.” 

iHeartMedia, Inc. Host R.J. Harris served as master of ceremonies. Turkey Hill Dairy provided its Giant Cow and ice cream treats with the message “Be Moooo-ved to Care about Kids.” The Capitol Building is bathed in blue light to honor child abuse victims, as are the Harrisburg Hilton, Harrisburg Market Street Bridge, PA Turnpike Central Administration Building, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Kamionka Entertainment Group establishments in downtown Harrisburg, schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and homes and buildings across the state.

Additional performers, partners, and participants included:

Reverend India E. Garnett, United Church of Christ; Harpist Linda Umstead; Awards Selection Panel members Terry L. Clark, Administrator, York County Office of Children, Youth & Families; Steve Doerner, Director, Bucks County Child Advocacy Center; Cynthia Figueroa, Commissioner, Department of Human Services, City of Philadelphia; and Brenda Lawrence, MSW, Program Administrator, Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN) FDR Executive Director, Diakon Lutheran Social Services; Girl Scout in the Heart of PA Gold Award recipient Geeta Lalvani, Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County; Boy Scout Eagle Award recipient Zachary Rotzal, Montgomery Township, Montgomery County, a senior at LaSalle College High School; and Zachary Willis-Prince and Kiera Evans, students at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Harrisburg.   

Additional sponsors and donors of the campaign included: The Hall Foundation; Boyer & Ritter; Deloitte Consulting; Waterday Foundation; Highmark Blue Shield; A Plus Mortgage Solutions;  Hershey Entertainment & Resorts; GIANT MARTIN’S; Capital Blue Cross; Homeland Center/Homeland at Home; McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC; Members 1st Federal Credit Union;  Good’s Tree and Lawn Care; Ridge Policy Group; Kiwanis Club of Harrisburg; Community Aid; The Foundation for Enhancing Communities; d’Vinci Interactive; UPMC Pinnacle; Mid Penn Bank; Graphtech; Nell McCormack Abom Communications; and Weiss Burkardt Kramer LLC.

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