Pueblo County 4-H participants receive Blue CAPE Award from Pueblo Children’s Advocacy Center

4-h participants wearing their blue capes
4-H youth in Pueblo County received the Blue Cape award from the Pueblo Children’s Advocacy Center.

The Blue CAPE award is given to those who promote the Center’s mission to provide safety, healing, and justice for children. Pueblo County 4-H participants received the award for their work on the 4-H Art 4-Heart Project raising funds for the Center.

During the 2020 quarantine, child abuse reports plummeted across the country. Experts believe this was actually a sign of an alarming spike in child abuse cases. Child abuse cases are often reported by teachers, school nurses, mentors, and community members. With children staying at home and attending school remotely, teachers and advocates are unable to identify and report signs of child abuse.

Simultaneously, the COVID pandemic resulted in heightened stress, loss of income, and social isolation for families nationwide. According to the CDC, these factors universally increase the risk for child abuse and neglect.

Unlike the nationwide trend, the Pueblo Children’s Advocacy Center in Pueblo County, Colorado noticed an increase in calls for child abuse and neglect at their center, a likely result of COVID stressors. The Center saw an approximate 33% increase in child abuse cases in 2020, jumping from about 300 cases per year to over 400.

Using art to promote safety, justice and healing

With the increase in cases over the past year, the Center awarded twenty-one individuals, organizations or partners with a custom-made blue CAPE for their dedication to promote the Center’s mission to “Provide safety, healing and justice for children.” CAPE stands for Children Advocacy Protection Effort.

Since 2014, Pueblo 4-H youth have been raising money for the Center through the annual Art 4-Heart Project. The project began as a way for youth involved in the Pueblo 4-H Leadership Society, a program designed to cultivate leadership skills, to use their creative skills to raise funds to benefit local, charitable, youth-based organizations. Local club members aged 5-18 create art (sketches, paintings, sculptures, mixed media and photography) culminating in an opening reception and art show in which the art was displayed in local shops around Pueblo County

Jen Johnston, CSU Extension 4-H agent in Pueblo County, explained how the Leadership Society persevered through the COVID-19 crisis.

“In 2020, with shops closed and 4-H members unable to meet in person, the Pueblo County 4-H Leadership Society pivoted — meeting via Zoom and conducting business online,” said Johnston. “Despite these challenges, they successfully produced their first virtual art show, raising over $200 for the Center during the pandemic.

“This is a passion that we have here. We are on a mission to help as many kids who have been maltreated as we can,” said Keith Madkins, director of services at the Center. “Because of folks like 4-H in the community, and because of this great city we live in, we’re able to keep this going.”

This year, the Pueblo County Leadership Society is working with Love Mug, a local coffee shop, to once again show, share and sell art created in the Pueblo County 4-H program. The art will be available for purchase during the month of July, and the Leadership Society members look forward to raising additional funds for the Pueblo Child Advocacy Center to further their goal of helping Pueblo County’s youngest and most vulnerable citizens find justice and healing.

Colorado 4-H: Empowering youth, developing leaders

Colorado 4-H empowers youth to reach their full potential by working and learning in partnership with caring adults.

Said MJ Fisher, Pueblo County Extension director, “I feel like society needs to be growing tomorrow’s leaders. 4-H is positively positioned to be one of the venues where our youth can discover and grow leadership skills and abilities within themselves.

“Pueblo County’s Art 4-Heart Project not only helps develop leaders, but it also is a meaningful way for our members to engage the community and provide support for some of the most vulnerable members of our society. It is youth helping youth. The 4-H youth involved truly are leaders in the making and demonstrating leadership at its best.”

Other awardees include Pueblo community members, CASA of Pueblo, King of Kings Church, and the PCSO Investigative Unit. Many of the CAPEs have been distributed to awardees over the past several months and the final CAPE will be awarded during the Center’s upcoming Blue Cape Breakfast on June 24th. The breakfast event will honor the award winners and raise funds for the Center.

Read more and access the full list of award winners at https://krdo.com/news/2021/04/30/pueblo-children-advocacy-center-honors-21-people-with-blue-capes/

About Colorado 4-H

Colorado 4-H reaches over 110,000 youth in Colorado annually, helping them to become confident, independent, resilient and compassionate leaders. 4-H is delivered by Colorado State University Extension. CSU Extension is part of a community of more than 100 public universities across the nation that provide experiences where young people learn by doing in hands-on projects in areas including health, science, agriculture and citizenship. Colorado 4-H’s network of over 10,000 volunteers and almost 100 4-H professionals and staff members, provides caring and supportive mentorship to all 4-H’ers, helping them to grow into true leaders, entrepreneurs and visionaries.

Get Involved

Join the 4-H network and learn more about different programs and projects at Colorado4H.org.