CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - In honor of April being National Child Abuse Prevention Month, many gathered in Carbondale on Monday, April 22 at 3:45 p.m. for the Million March Against Child Abuse.
The walk raises awareness and asks for tougher sentencing for violent crimes against children in the U.S. People in over 150 cities and 45 states will join together for the march.
MACA is a non-partisan, grass roots, nationwide effort to raise awareness of the magnitude of child abuse, to educate the masses and ask lawmakers for tougher sentencing in violent crimes against our nation's children.
And some of the victims say one of the first steps for them in stopping the abuse was finding someone who believed them.
"The first person who actually did that for me was my high school counselor, Brian Church,"said Nicolette Winn founder of No Longer Silenced Movement. "And that was very important for me because he was the first one who taught me I could get help. And that was the first step in my healing process."
The walk is spearheaded by Lin Seahorn, founder of Children Without a Voice out of Atlanta, Ga.
"Children are the world's greatest natural resource and should be protected more than anything else on earth," Seahorn said. "We have to break the silence around the magnitude of crimes against our children right here in the U.S., educate the masses, hold our lawmakers accountable for taking these crimes seriously and keeping violent offenders in prison where they belong."
The Carbondale march began at the west end of University Mall. From there, it went south on Lewis Lane to Grand Avenue, then west to Shryock Auditorium.
Cast members of "Rock of Ages" participated in the march. "Rock of Ages," the 5-time Tony Award nominated musical, will perform at 7:30 p.m. at Shryock Auditorium on the campus of SIU Carbondale. Cast member Bones is a national spokesperson for MACA and CWAV.
"It takes awhile. It's something that people need to face first," said Bones Elias. "And once they realize they need help it's an ongoing process. It's something that's always going to be with you, the scars always remain."
"It took me like 20 years to finally come to the conclusion that I needed help. And it was the best thing I ever did for myself."
The march is supported locally by Gaia House Interfaith Center, 913 S. Illinois Avenue, and the No Longer Silenced Movement. The No Longer Silenced Movement is a grassroots movement spearheaded by SIU students. Gaia House will host a series of events the day of the march.
For more information on MACA, you can visit the Washington, D.C. page by clicking here.