Junior League grant helps buy materials to assist advocates working with children

Junior League grant helps buy materials to assist advocates working with children

URBANA – Working recently with a 5-year-old girl sexually molested by a neighbor, Kathy McGee had something other than her own 18 years of experience to help her help the child.

The victim advocate in the Champaign County state's attorney's office had a book written for children who have been victimized called "Lily Lightning Bug and Her Stolen Glow."

Written in 2006 by Jeannette Adkins, executive director for the National Organization for Victim Assistance, the book is a metaphor about a lightning bug robbed of her ability to glow by a bad spider and his nasty accomplice, a locust. Featuring characters with witty alliterative names like Amos Ant the judge, Beatrice Butterfly the prosecutor, and Pauley Praying Mantis the police officer, the book is really an explanation of what a child victim of sex abuse can expect during a trial of the person accused of the abuse.

"It's just a really easy-to-read, easy-to-understand concept for children coming from very unique backgrounds," said McGee, who has worked with children as a therapist or advocate since 1992.

Thanks to a $500 grant from the Junior League of Champaign-Urbana, McGee was able to purchase 25 copies of the Lily book to distribute to the child sex victims who come through her office. The 5-year-old girl whose perpetrator was convicted in early December was the first recipient.

McGee said the book allowed the girl to "be able to process what had happened and not think about the perpetrator and focus on a spider. A spider in a book is manageable as opposed to a guy in a courtroom."

Trish Gulley, community council director of the Junior League, said McGee's application for the money to fund the book fit in well with the League's mission.

"This covered one (of our mission statements) that is supporting children," said Gulley, who, along with the other committee members read the book. "It's a nice story that we thought will help the victim through the whole process."

McGee said Mike Williams, director of the Children's Advocacy Center in Urbana, brought the book to her attention as well as the fact that the Junior League had the money available. The CAC is the non-threatening setting where child crime victims are interviewed by professionals while their statements are recorded for use in court.

In its latest round of community assistance funds grants, the Junior League also paid $290 for the CAC to have 250 copies of a parents' guide to the CAC printed.

"It's a brochure we hand out that explains to them exactly what we do, what the team approach to child abuse investigating is about, information about the court process, changes they may see in their child if he's abused, different emotions they may be experiencing, resources and guidance for getting help," Williams said.

Williams said the CAC has received two previous grants from the Junior League that enabled the center to buy a digital camera and microphones for an interview room for which they are extremely grateful.

"Resources are limited. It allows us to redirect resources elsewhere," he said.

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