As we prepare to celebrate National Safe Place Week, I want to express my disappointment in the Kevin Siers cartoon published March 6 in the Observer. Unfortunately, the cartoon associated the Safe Place logo with the polarized discussion of immigration. As the Executive Director of The Relatives, which provides oversight to over 650 Safe Place locations, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind readers that the Safe Place logo is a symbol of hope and safety for youth who are in crisis.
Safe Place was started in 1983 and grew to be a national youth outreach and prevention program for young people under the age of 18 who need immediate help and safety. The highly recognized Safe Place sign designates locations from libraries to fire stations as places where youth in crisis can receive stability and comfort. Safe Place locations provide help for all youth in crisis regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or nationality.
In Charlotte, that sign is a symbol of safety to thousands of youth who are neglected, abused, and victimized in our community. Charlotte has over 650 Safe Place locations which are managed by The Relatives, an organization dedicated to helping youth in crisis find safety, housing and stability.
Staff members at each Safe Place location are trained to recognize and offer immediate assistance to youth in crisis. In school, children are taught to look for the sign if they are in crisis and without support. School counselors also utilize Safe Place as a resource for their students. In Charlotte, Safe Place partners include the Charlotte Fire Department, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, YMCAs, QuikTrips, Charlotte Mecklenburg Libraries, Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), and many churches and youth-friendly organizations.
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Last year, 30 children accessed a Safe Place site and found support while they were in crisis.
Safe Place is a recognized and vital resource for our community. I hope that through outreach efforts and education, including this article, we are able to show that Safe Place is positive aspect of our community.
As we celebrate Safe Place Week from March 18-25, I would like invite you to join the annual Robert’s Walk on Saturday, March 23. The walk honors all the youth who have been in crisis and have bravely found safety at a Safe Place location. Robert’s Walk starts at 9:30 a.m. at Freedom Park and will end at The Relatives youth crisis center, a Safe Place location, on East Blvd.