On Saturday, April 4, Dr. Clifford Thomas (We Lead By Example, Inc./Tae Kwon Do Ramblers Self-Defense Systems), in partnership with Mrs. Sharron Dansby (Maximizing God's Woman, Inc.) and the People for Change Coalition's Public Safety Committee, held the Protecting the Young and Innocent: Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Workshop at Bladensburg Community Center. People for Change Coalition Public Safety Committee members who participated, in addition to Dr. Thomas, Mrs. Dansby, Major Victoria Brock, and Ms. Susan McCutchen (workshop subcommittee members), were Sylvester Jones (committee chair) and Chauncey Brewer. A free event providing interactional activities and information for the entire family, this workshop was convened to mark April 2015's Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The participants learned how to prevent, detect, and mitigate the effects of child abuse. They were treated to Rambler student Nathaniel Potts opening the program with an excellent rendition of the national anthem. The program began with "Know the Facts and Break the Cycle" (Maximizing God's Woman, Inc.), which featured posters made by children that presented statistics about child sexual abuse. Narrated by Dr. Thomas, Rambler students performed skits, including the use of various props--police, fireman, and sports "hats," and a priest's collar--to demonstrate that the roles people play do not necessarily reflect their character and that they, too, can be child abusers. Students also demonstrated simple self-defense moves that children can remember, as well as "street smarts," such as the use of family safety code words. The afternoon featured "Enough is Enough: NO Excuse for Child Abuse," a session for adults, facilitated by Maximizing God's Woman, which provided information, generated discussion, and featured representatives from the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, law enforcement representatives, and a video and slide presentation. Dignitaries (Bladensburg Mayor Walter James and Council Members Walter Ficklin and Beverly Hall, and Jimmy Tarlau, representing District 47), Major Brock and Bladensburg and other police representatives, and activists who came out to support the workshop made brief remarks to underscore the importance of community events such as these.
Online and Print Newspaper Coverage: The April 10 Andrews Gazette article with photos can be downloaded here and is featured on page 3 of the print edition at this link. Story and photos are by photojournalist Bobby Jones.
Dr. Thomas thanks Bladensburg Community Center's Christy Irving, Byron Jones, and staff for hosting and assisting with the workshop arrangements. He was pleased that some of his Rambler students and families came out to show their support, and particularly acknowledges adults Harry Jenifer, Andrea Seemangal, and Yulanda Swindell, and youths Darion Jenifer and Adrian Seemangal, for going above and beyond in their assistance. We also thank Wegmans at Woodmore Town Centre for providing partial financial support for the afternoon snacks.
CTV taped an interview with Dr. Thomas at Bladensburg Community Center that aired on CTV News on April 1. He described his upcoming Protecting the Young and Innocent: Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Workshop to be held at Bladensburg Community Center on April 4, and briefly addressed the lifelong ill effects of child sexual abuse on the victims and possible ways to prevent it from happening in the first place.