The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 4, 2013

Pymatuning student works to raise awareness of child abuse

Star Beacon

ANDOVER — Most people will never take the initiative to serve the community in such a way Julia Fink is. Fink is a senior at Pymatuning Valley High School who involves herself in numerous extracurricular activities, takes every advanced class available to her, and excels at everything she does. Even though it would seem that the entirety of her time is filled with these activities, Fink has been actively involved in Girl Scouts for the past 12 years of her life. Her membership in the organization has given her the opportunity to meet interesting people, experience new things, and travel to places she otherwise wouldn’t have been able to go.

Through much work and dedication, Fink managed to reach the level of Ambassador, the highest rank a Girl Scout can reach. Girl Scouts at her rank who have met the requirements necessary are able to start their Gold Award Project, which Fink began this past summer and has almost finished.

Approximately 100,000 Girl Scouts of high school age are eligible to complete their Gold Award project each year. Of this, only 5,500 girls took the steps last year to actually complete their projects. To receive their Gold Award, a Girl Scout must dedicate her time to an extensive community service project. In the past Girl Scouts have created a boating safety class, ran a children’s book drive, landscaped for different prominent buildings and helped their communities in various other ways. Each Gold Award is awarded to a Girl Scout who has succeeded in her attempt to solve a problem within her community. These girls are some of the most service-dedicated on earth.

Fink started her project knowing that she wanted to center it around child abuse awareness. Fink’s main goal of her project is to make people aware that child abuse is a big issue, and there is something that can be done about it. Fink started her project by calling Ashtabula County Children Services and Signature Health. Both agreed to support her along the way, and started by helping her come up with ideas for her project. The director of Ashtabula County Children Services, Tania Burnett, contributed greatly by getting in contact with the nine libraries in the county to convince them to get on board with Fink’s project. With support from Children Services, Fink was able to more easily convince the county libraries to support her project as well.

After having her project approved by the board of Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio, Fink met with some leaders of Children Services and Signature Health to brainstorm and plan further. She set up booths at the Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival, Andover Fall Festival and the Geneva Grape Jamboree to collect donations to go toward her project. After more than 80 hours of work on her project, Fink has managed to get at least seven libraries included in her project as well as Pymatuning Valley Schools.

Fink plans to send each library a blue basket filled with blue pinwheels. Blue represents child abuse awareness, while blue pinwheels are the symbol for Pinwheels for Prevention. Displays will be set up in each library to inform the public of child abuse and to let people know what to do if a child they know is being abused. The directors at each library will receive a blue T-shirt with a pinwheel stating “It shouldn’t hurt to be a child.”

Each building of the Pymatuning Valley School is lined with posters to inform others of child abuse, and to request that the students wear blue April 10. April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month, with April 10 being “Go Blue Day.” Nationwide, people wear blue this day to honor Child Abuse Awareness Month. On April 10, Fink will be giving a speech at the Rise Up Luncheon, held by Ashtabula County Children Services.

After completing her project and filling out paperwork, Fink should receive her Gold Award. Her extensive work on this project will have a lasting effect on the community by keeping people informed of child abuse, and letting them know there is a solution. Fink’s perseverance will help her fulfill her true goal of her work, which is summed up by her words, “I wanted to make the world a better place.”

To contact Ashtabula County Children Services, call (440) 998-1811 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For emergency referrals, call the 24 hour toll-free hotline at 1-888-998-1811.