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In his fifth annual child abuse awareness march, Elijah Lee says he will highlight the need for mental health counseling and services for young people.

The march is set for March 5 at Centennial Park in Roanoke Rapids. The time is 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

“I lost my father at the age of 3 and I know that counseling has been helpful to me and my family over the years,” he said.  “Aside from grief, young people also experience bullying, trauma, depression, low self-esteem, and other experiences where counseling is needed.  Mental Health services need to be both affordable and accessible.”  

In the past year, Lee has founded his own nonprofit organization, Hear Our Voices, which is dedicated to the empowerment of young people.  “For my work in this arena, I am a finalist for Metropolitan Business League Youth Entrepreneur of the Year in Richmond.”

He has also been attending General Assembly sessions and personally meeting with lawmakers to ensure the voice of young people is in the room. 

While Lee no longer lives in the Roanoke Valley, he said,  “I have remained committed to the town of Roanoke Rapids and I want the community to know that we still have work to be done.”

Child abuse, he said, continues to permeate within communities. “Unfortunately, the pandemic only exacerbated the issue.  We must work to let our children know they have a right to safety and protection.”  

Speakers for the Roanoke Rapids event include Kelby Hicks, Sandra Bryant and Chuck Hasty.