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Elijah Lee, a KIPP Gaston College Preparatory student who holds an annual child abuse awareness march, is reaching out to the community to help create a pediatric safe room at Halifax Regional. 

According to the GoFundMe page for the project, “This room will be designed to support children experiencing child abuse and trauma.  All donations will go towards decorating and redeveloping a room at the hospital to be child-friendly.”

Any extra proceeds raised will go toward the third annual child abuse march planned in March.

Lee said in an email this weekend, “The hospital project is a project that allows kids who have been abused, have trauma, and have mental health challenges to be able to cope and decompress.

He said, “The child friendly room will allow them to relax and feel as though they are safe. This room will also help the children become more comfortable with talking to the authorities.These donations are important because they will provide paint, wall decals, TV and DVD player, and anything else that will follow hospital regulations.”

The project is another part of the student’s advocacy for children. “I believe this room at the hospital will allow them to be able to cope with that. Also we know that oftentimes child abuse leads to mental health challenges. We know that after a child has experienced abuse or a traumatic event they must make a trip to the hospital. While at the hospital and after they have gotten their checkup, with this room they can find refuge in the room.”

Lee said the project is for the entire community.  “There is an African proverb that states it takes a village to raise a child. I believe that this project is one way for our community to be involved in the raising and uplifting of our young people. 

“As I always say, when one falls, we all fall, but when one rises, all rise. I believe that this hospital safe room will be an amazing opportunity for a whole community to be able to rise together.”

The goal of the fundraiser is $3,000 and thus far $1,840 has been raised for the project. 

The GoFundMe page acknowledges the assistance of Enfield police Captain Chuck Hasty, Jason Harrell of Vidant and the Halifax Regional staff for the partnership.

Lee’s advocacy has been recognized by Roanoke Rapids City Council and last month the Halifax County Board of Commissioners honored the student with a proclamation declaring the first Saturday in March as Child Abuse Awareness Day throughout the county.

The document recognizes Lee as “an advocate and voice for children experiencing child abuse by bringing child abuse awareness to light in Halifax County and the surrounding areas.”

“All children deserve to have safe, stable nurturing homes and communities to foster healthy growth and development,” the proclamation says. “Trauma during childhood affects a person for the rest of their life and these affects can be mentally, physically and emotionally harmful.”

Effective child abuse prevention strategies succeed, according to the document, “because of partnerships created among citizens, human services agencies, schools, faith communities, healthcare providers, civic organizations, law enforcement agencies and the business community.”

The proclamation commends Lee “for his inspiration, strong spirit and teaching us that we all must take a stand to help protect our children.”

The GoFundMe page also notes $2 of any T-shirts purchased for the 2020 march will go towards the hospital project.

T-shirts are $10 and available for purchase at  this link.