It’s Tuesday morning, the start of another day of Leadership Scott. The group of young adults and community leaders are anxiously waiting to see what another day holds.
The room is warm and full of kindness as Kellie Asberry, director of the Children’s Center of the Cumberlands appears. I am quite sure that not one person in that group knew what was truly in store for them that morning. As we walk through the halls of what seemed to be a great maze, we find our seats in the board room of the center. The next couple hours, for these minds discovering what Scott County is all about, will be a great awakening. Armed with donuts and juice for our group, Kellie begins sharing the passion for the abused and victims in our community. The class sat quietly listening about the services that the team of hearts stitched together performs daily to help heal the wounded. The educational pieces that never seem to be enough for the center, only because abuse still exist in our corner of earth. A program called, Darkness to Light, helping open doors in the minds of educators, coaches, mentors, churches, etc., warning them of the signs of child begging to be helped or rescued. A battleground approach to empower the children to say it is not ok, and their body is not a playground for unwanted touch. A place to hand out badges of courage to children who tell their stories and undertaking the enormous task of protecting them when they do, all under one roof, all so their nightmare only has to be relived just once. From infant to elder, the Children’s Center is there with ointment to heal a hurting Scott County.
I look around the room and see fourteen faces sitting almost overwhelmed at what they are hearing. Half brokenhearted for the great pain that so many have endured and half proud of the center that captures the pain, bottles it, and stores it away to pursue the constant process of restoration. However, I knew what was coming next. I saw Kellie walk to the TV screen, my own heart started racing, and I knew, the video. The video that would forever change the minds of Leadership Scott just as it had mine the first time I had saw it. With one single push of play, it began. The voice of Sonni Reagan filled the room as she narrated a story from a survivor of child abuse in Scott County. A storyboard of pictures began appearing on screen, painting a picture in our heart. The memories of a child and her life lived, the ugly words that tried to coach her to fail. Cowardly hands that beat her, the violence that stole their family’s lives. Pictures so perfectly chosen to illustrate the echoing voices of the narrator, you found yourself wanting to hide, hoping he wouldn’t find you. Before you could wrap your mind fully around what was happening, the story stopped. It stopped with a child asking, why? Why had no one helped? The lights brightened and there was Leadership Scott sitting with no blinders on. For that victim, one of the bravest women I know chose to take her story and educate the world. I saw the looks, I knew the look, and I experienced firsthand, the look of unbelief. How could this be happening in our hometown? The look of how dare you tell me? I can’t just settle to do nothing now, which is exactly the hope of this hero, which by telling her story, it will stop the cycle, the violence, the abuse.
The thing about education, once you are, you can’t be the same. The goal of Kellie Asberry and the skilled team at the Children’s Center had done exactly what they had intended to do, educate. In over an hour, the Center laid a piece of Scott County inside the core of that Leadership Scott class, and that is what they do day after day for Scott County, pouring their hearts in the protection of a community healing.
In her closing words to Leadership Scott, Kellie looks out at the room, smiles her passionate smile, and says this, “There are no victims here, only survivors.” Survivors indeed Scott County, because leaders, citizens, families, heroes they all chose to remove the blinders of a passive acceptance and walk from darkness into light through education and protection of the Children’s Center of the Cumberlands.