April is nationally recognized as Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the Barren River Area Child Advocacy Center plans to be extremely active in its effort to raise awareness and funds for defeating child abuse.

BRACAC Executive Director Jennifer Bryant said the COVID-19 pandemic has made it harder for children to come forward with their abuse, which makes this issue even more prevalent this year.

“Unfortunately, Kentucky is first in the nation for sustained child abuse,” Bryant said. “It takes just one person believing a child to make all the difference. We want to raise awareness around believing children.”

Perhaps the center’s largest effort in April will be its annual Great Teddy Bear Drop N’ Ride on April 23-24, which will take place throughout the region.

The event is usually held on one day, but it will be more spread out this year because of safety reasons amid the pandemic.

It costs $20 to participate in the event.

When registering, participants will receive an event pin, an event discount card for local businesses and a destination route for an individual or small group ride on that Friday or Saturday.

There are five total routes to pick from, and each will include “fun stops” and a teddy bear drop-off.

“We are hoping to raise $26,000 from this event,” Bryant said. “We are very thankful for sponsors who have held on during this difficult past year.”

To register for the event, visit https://give.classy.org/gtbr21.

The center is also registering individuals for its annual Over the Edge event Sept. 10-11.

For the fourth straight year, those who participate in Over the Edge will raise at least $1,000 to rappel five stories off the top of Stadium Park Plaza in downtown Bowling Green.

The goal for this year’s event is to raise at least $100,000. Anyone can sign up at give.classy.org/OTE21. All event proceeds will support the center’s services.

Both events serve as the center’s major fundraisers.

“It’s very important for us to sustain funding,” Bryant said. “These funds help us bring in important services into our region. All our services are funded in part by our local fundraising efforts. We have children currently on the waiting list to receive therapy, so it’s important to raise this money quickly.”

Bryant said the center has also asked area businesses to come up with a food item on their menus that will be used to help raise awareness of child abuse.

The color blue will also be used throughout the region on ribbons and other food products to signify Child Abuse Prevention Month. The color represents the bruising children often have when they are abused.

For family activities all month long, the center created a “No Excuse for Abuse” activity awareness kit.

With a suggested $25 donation, families will receive pinwheels for planting, stickers, a cookie cutter and recipe, pinwheel coloring pages, bubbles, balloons and a make-your-own pinwheel activity sheet.

BRACAC also wants the public to tag the center @childadvocacyct or use hashtags such as #BRACAC and #ChewsToBeTheEnd during awareness adventures in April.

– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.