County schools raise child advocacy awareness, support Owens House

Oak Mountain Elementary School students collected more than 600 items for Owens House during the school’s Child Advocacy Awareness Week. (Contributed)

Oak Mountain Elementary School students collected more than 600 items for Owens House during the school’s Child Advocacy Awareness Week. (Contributed)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

Schools across the Shelby County School System recently worked together to raise awareness for an important issue and support one of the system’s key partners.

Schools supported Owens House through activities, drives and a Child Advocacy Awareness Week.

Owens House, which was founded by the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, provides counseling and other services to abused children. The organization also works closely with law enforcement agencies and the DHR to assist in prosecuting suspects in abuse cases.

“Owens House is one of the resources we have in Shelby County that benefits all children,” Shelby County Schools Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Dr. Lynn Cook said.

The Shelby County School System has partnered with Owens House for years to educate both teachers and students on child abuse.

Owens House representatives lead age-appropriate workshops at each grade level throughout the school system.

“They come in to our schools, they talk with our students about who to go to and talk with (if they experience abuse),” Cook said.

Owens House works with Shelby County Schools teachers as well to educate them on the signs of abuse and how to intervene.

“Counselors (and) teachers (are) mandatory reporters, (they learn) how to recognize when a child might be struggling or something unusual might be happening,” Shelby County Schools Counseling and Testing Supervisor Kim Bailey said. “They’re with the students all the time, so they may see things that other people may not see.”

Oak Mountain Elementary School recognized Child Advocacy Awareness Week from April 11-15.

Throughout the week, students and teachers learned abuse awareness facts and participated in a supply drive for Owens House.

Over the week, students collected more than 600 items for Owens House, such as Play-Doh, bubbles and art supplies.

“We were so excited to see how involved our families got,” OMES counselor Hayden Belisle said.

Belisle said Owens House does a lot to support the school, and the drive was a way to give back.

“Owens House has done so much to help,” Belisle said. “We do not live in a bubble, we have to be educated in knowing (what to look for).”