Childhood should be a time of wonder and excitement – a time to learn and grow. Sadly, not all children get to experience the carefree joy of childhood. We know that child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education. And, 90% of the time a child is being harmed, it’s at the hands of someone they – and their parents – know, love and trust.
- 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will become victims of child sexual abuse before their 18th birthday.
- 1 in 5 children are solicited sexually through the Internet before the age of 18.
- More than 90% of individuals with a developmental delay or disability will be sexually assaulted at least once in their lifetime.
The stats are staggering, but the solution is clear: 95 percent of child sexual abuse is preventable through education and awareness.
That’s why Lauren Book, Founder and CEO of the Aventura-based nonprofit Lauren’s Kids (www.laurenskids.org), has laced up her sneakers each and every year since 2010 to walk 1,500 miles across the state of Florida – to educate communities, raise awareness, and empower survivors.
Her iconic “Walk in My Shoes” has become a piece of Florida history, beginning each year at the Southernmost Point of the U.S. in Key West, traveling north and hitting both coasts of the state before ending at the steps of the Historic Florida Capitol in Tallahassee.
The South Florida leg of the “Walk in My Shoes” is perhaps one of the most exciting, engaging and fun – with cameos by Miami HEAT and Miami Dolphins players and coaches, elected officials, and thousands of individuals and families coming together to walk in honor of this important cause.
What began as one Aventura woman’s personal mission to create change for children has truly become a movement embraced by communities across the state. But as much as Lauren and Lauren’s Kids have done and as far as we’ve come, there is still much left to do in the fight for a safer Florida…and a safer Aventura.
This year the 8th annual Lauren’s Kids “Walk in My Shoes” event will be held on September 11 in Miami and September 12 in Broward. Visit LaurensKids.org/Walk to register and learn more.