GREENFIELD — She looked out over the Courthouse Plaza, watching as crews of volunteers gathered their pamphlets, their signs, their tables, their games.
Smiles spread across their faces, and the laughter the filled the plaza that morning still hung in the air as organizers headed home for the day with a sense of satisfaction. They each knew what they’d done, Mikel Theobald said, that they’d reached their goal of bringing families together.
More than 130 parents and their children, many dressed in colorful costumes, came to downtown Greenfield on Saturday morning for a superhero-themed 5K walk and run. The event raised more than $3,000 to further the mission of Hancock 4 Kids, a local organization working to fight child abuse and neglect in the county.
Saturday, there was only joy, Theobald said. With Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman logos splashed across their chests, kids and parents darted up and down American Legion Place and jogged along the Pennsy Trail, enjoying each other’s time and some friendly competition.
“We want to create strong families and to create opportunities for those families to have fun together,” Theobald said. “That’s the reward.”
Hancock 4 Kids serves as the local chapter of Prevent Child Abuse Indiana; it was founded as Prevent Child Abuse Hancock County in 2015 but underwent a name-change late last year. Its members work to educate their neighbors about local children’s issues, hoping to keep kids from becoming the defenseless victims of the parents’ poor choices, officials say.
The group brings together more than 30 community stakeholders, each of whom offers different viewpoints on child abuse and neglect; they include health care providers, educators and representatives from local law enforcement.
Since its inception in 2015, the group has worked to create an array of child abuse and neglect prevention classes — efforts that began amid a rise in crimes against kids across the state, including two neglect cases that resulted in the deaths of local children.
Child abuse and neglect cases are up nearly 20 percent statewide, according to the Indiana Department of Child Services. That reflects a jump in DCS investigations in Hancock County; the department handled 241 investigations in 2016 compared to 186 cases in 2015, according to state records.
Saturday’s Superhero 5K and kids’ dash was the inaugural fundraiser for Hancock 4 Kids, said Theobald, a co-chair for the organization. In addition to fun and games, the event offered a chance for people to visit with agencies geared to help families in crisis, as well as healthcare providers and clearinghouses serving all Hoosiers.
The money raised will help the group further its educational and outreach efforts locally, which include parenting classes offered in conjunction with Hancock Regional Hospital. Each person who completes the course is given a video baby monitor. Money raised at Saturday’s event will help purchase those gifts as well as create new programs with other incentives.
Hancock 4 Kids seeks community members to join the fight against child abuse.
To learn more call 317-468-8525 or visit pcahancockcounty.wixsite.com/child