CINCINNATI — Nearly 1 in 7 children in the U.S. Have experienced child abuse or neglect in the past year, according to the U.S. Department of Health. And one camp in Southwest Ohio is stepping up to help.
It’s an exciting day for Sarah Allen, 13. She and her peers are graduating from the Cincinnati Police Department’s Children in Trauma Intervention, or CITI, camp. But this isn’t her first time.
“Last year, before I even came to the camp, I had a lot of personal issues with anger and all that stuff,” said Allen.
It was the lessons learned during the seven weeks of camp that she said helped her manage her anger issues.
“If we did something we weren’t supposed to do, they would be like, hey don’t do this,” she said. “And if we did it again, we would get disciplined for that. And more than likely, we wouldn’t do it again.”
Not only was she learning discipline, but other skills as well. Allen took part in martial arts, step classes, and other physical activities.
“It really helped me know that I’m able to do things that I never thought I would be able to do,” she said.
Allen was one of dozens of campers, ages 12 to 15, to graduate from the camp, Friday. Organizer and Cincinnati Police Officer Eddie Hawkins said he sees parents drop off children who are struggling with behavior problems or other issues in their life and helps them learn to cope with tough situations.
“It’s our goal to be able to help them to deal with that trauma,” said Hawkins. “We’re not really big on telling a young person what they can’t do. We’re really big on telling them what they can do.”
He said the workshops and activities for the teens were far from easy, but they have helped them not only overcome trauma, but build character as well.
“To see them come in every day and know their routine and be able to get here in front of their families and friends and perform is the most rewarding part,” he said.
Now, as a double graduate of the program, Allen said she feels more like a leader and aspires to be a K-9 police officer one day.
“Me being here this year and last year, it has inspired me to know I’m able to help other people,” she said.