Governor Ron DeSantis, First Lady Casey DeSantis and Senate President Bill Galvano today joined Lauren’s Kids Founder and CEO State Senator Lauren Book to kick-off the start of the “42 Hours for 42 Million” advocacy walk at the Florida Capitol. Beginning today and through Thursday, April 4, legislators, state leaders, survivors, advocates and community members will join Senator Book in a 42+ hour continuous walk to honor the more than 42 million survivors of child sexual abuse who live in the United States. The walk is taking place on the plaza level of the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee with a treadmill donated by Premier Health & Fitness Center. Senator Book, a tireless advocate and child sexual abuse survivor, will be walking through much of tonight.
“While the statistics are staggering, it is encouraging to know that 95 percent of child sexual abuse can be prevented through education and awareness. Armed with the right information, families are able to do more to protect their children and keep them safe. I am proud to take part in this event and encourage all Florida families to make use of the free educational resources available through Lauren’s Kids,” said Governor DeSantis.
Among the other Florida leaders participating in the event are Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried, Senate President Bill Galvano, Representative Patricia Williams, Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Chad Poppell and his wife, Shelly, and VISIT FLORIDA President & CEO and former state senator Dana Young, as well as advocates from the Florida Children’s Council, Florida Coalition for Children and the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence.
During both nights of the event, Florida’s old capitol will be lit in teal – the color associated with sexual assault awareness.
“Every April, we recognize National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and raise the awareness needed to ensure that it doesn’t hurt to be a child – because all too often, it does,” said Senator Book. “Since 2010, we’ve walked with thousands across the state of Florida to raise awareness for this issue, and this year, we are excited to bring our energy, commitment, and advocacy to the Florida Capitol to fight to prevent child sexual abuse.”
This year’s “42 Hours for 42 Million” walk follows Lauren’s Kids eight-year “Walk in My Shoes” journey across Florida, which has welcomed advocates, community leaders, allies, survivors and more to walk 1,500 miles from Tallahassee to Key West.
The “42 Hours” advocacy walk is part of Lauren’s Kids’ April campaign recognizing National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month. Over the course of the month, Lauren’s Kids will hold outreach events and announce new free resources as part of the foundation’s ongoing efforts to educate families about child sexual abuse prevention. Next week, Lauren’s Kids will begin renovating the Hurricane Michael-ravaged therapy house at the Gulf Coast Child Advocacy Center in Panama City, Fla. Later this month, Lauren’s Kids is releasing its “Blueprint for Building Safer, Smarter Families,” a free comprehensive and interactive activity pack to teach children the basics of personal safety. Throughout April, a new Lauren’s Kids television public service announcement is airing on CBS stations nationwide as part of the CBS Cares campaign.
For more information about the “42 Hours for 42 Million” walk, please visit laurenskids.org/saam.
Lauren Book, M.S. ED, founder and CEO of Lauren’s Kids, is an internationally-recognized child protection advocate, best-selling author and Florida State Senator who works every day to protect childhood. She is also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, suffered at the hands of a trusted caretaker from the time she was 10 until the age of 16. Armed with the knowledge that 95 percent of sexual abuse is preventable through education and awareness, Lauren has worked to turn her horrific personal experience into a vehicle to prevent childhood sexual abuse and help other survivors heal.
An official 501(c)(3) since 2007, Lauren’s Kids educates adults and children about sexual abuse prevention through in-school curricula, ADDY and EMMY Award-winning public awareness campaigns and speaking engagements around the country and the world. The organization provides more than 8 million direct mail education and awareness materials statewide. The foundation has helped advocate for the passage of nearly two dozen laws to support survivors and protect children from predators. For more information, please visit laurenskids.org.