Youths raise donations for hundreds of children impacted by domestic violence in Winston-Salem

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- On Wednesday, members of Winston-Salem’s youth advisory council gathered near the youth expression wall at Winston Square Park to create their own mural. But, although it’s art on the surface, the underlying meaning behind the effort was to provide comfort to child victims of a widespread, city-wide issue: domestic violence.

“Children of the victims of domestic violence need to understand that their peers care about them,” said Wanda Allen-Abraha, human relations director for the city.

Winston-Salem police say in 2017, child victims ages 17 or younger were affected by or directly victims of domestic violence in 451 of their cases. So far in 2018, that figure has reached 221.

“We just want to show that we don’t stand for that,” said 15-year-old participant Rico Howell.

With the help of the men and women who handle domestic violence cases and console the victims, the youths created a mural with positive images and expressions of unity.

Dozens of officers and firefighters helped create the artwork, while forming a bond with the youths.

“It shows that our youth can do very positive things in our local community,” Allen-Abraha said.

Next to the workspace, there was a collection of other sorts. There, donations raised by the council were given to the first responders, to be given to children of domestic violence victims.

“Stay strong, stay positive,” Howell said, to his peers experiencing the effects of domestic violence. “Even if the bad days are near, always keep your head up.”

Donations included school supplies, comfort toys and everyday essentials.

“Inspiring,” Howell said. “Makes you want to do more things.”

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year and 90 percent of those children are eyewitnesses to the violence. ​