New Calgary exhibit aims to increase child abuse awareness

New Calgary exhibit aims to increase child abuse awareness

From CTV Calgary – The Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre (SKCAC) is attempting to bring the issue of child abuse to the forefront with an exhibit that offers the public, including students over the age of 13, an opportunity to experience the long-lasting impact through the words of survivors.

The Lisa Project, an exhibit created in the United States, has been installed in Eau Claire Market and will be open at select times through November 2, 2018. The exhibit’s Calgary stop is its first appearance in Canada.

“The exhibit is a multi-sensory experience where (visitors) get to walk through different rooms and hear the voices of children,” explained Sara Austin, CEO of the SKCAC. “You follow the footsteps of children from room to room and in each room you get to experience a different form of child abuse and see what it looks like for different children. This exhibit is really meant to help you see that child abuse affects kids from all walks of life, kids from different socio economic backgrounds, different cultural backgrounds.”

“You come out of it feeling a strong sense that you must be part of taking action to keep our kids safe.” According to Austin, nearly 1-in-3 Canadians are affected by child abuse.

Gene Hardin was compelled to create The Lisa Project in 2010 drawing inspiration from the circumstances ‘Lisa’, a six-year-old girl from San Diego County, faced decades ago. The stories in the exhibit include actual case files from the United States but the names and faces have been changed to protect the victims.

“Lisa begins the story and she ends the story, but you’re going to hear other stories inside the exhibit as well,” explained Hardin. “Lisa, at the time, made a 911 call to tell them to hurry to her house because her drunk stepfather was beating the family.”

Visitors will encounter audio and visual depictions of the cases where the survivors will tell you their stories. “You walk through it and you’re not going to be able to forget about it and that’s really the point.”

In its 8 years, The Lisa Project has welcomed nearly 200,000 visitors. The free exhibit will be open to the public at Eau Claire Market in October 2018.

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