Phoenix Rising, a local nonprofit that fights human trafficking, will host its inaugural Eeyore’s Birthday Bash event from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. April 17. The block party will be held outside the Higgins Center for Nonprofits at 958 Collett Ave.
The event is modeled after an Austin, Texas, event called Eeyore’s Birthday Party, which has been occurring annually since 1963.
The Austin event includes music, vendors, games, contests and prizes, all in an effort to bring together diverse cultures. The originator of Austin’s event granted Phoenix Rising permission to create a sister event in Bowling Green, Phoenix Rising intern Sabre Semrau said.
The Bowling Green event will focus on nonprofits that support children in the community. The event aims to raise awareness about human trafficking and the local resources that exist to combat it, Semrau said.
“We want to unify organizations doing similar work locally behind our common mission of youth empowerment,” Semrau wrote in an email.
Phoenix Rising is focused on supporting and empowering Kentucky children affected by human trafficking while also educating the community about identifying and responding to trafficking situations, Semrau said.
The nonprofit offers a drop-in office for at-risk children, tutoring and other activities, Semrau said. Other programs include survivor mentoring, wise choices for children to talk about boundaries and self-worth, “In Your Backyard” with educational tools to raise awareness about sex trafficking and the “Rise Up” program to raise money for youths in the residential survivor mentoring program, Semrau said.
“We strive to create a community that can guide youth human trafficking survivors on a journey of healing,” Semrau said.
Human trafficking is prevalent in Bowling Green because it’s located between two major cities on a major interstate, Semrau said.
“Human trafficking is much more prevalent than people realize, and signs of exploitation often go unnoticed,” Semrau said. “We serve kids all over the state.”
The event will include party favors, educational handouts, games, prizes and trauma-informed activities for all attendees. Children will receive a party favor bag with party favors centered on sensory therapy, including things like fidget toys, stickers and stress toys, Semrau said. There will also be games, such as Pin the Tail on Eeyore and a birthday cake walk, Semrau said.
“The prizes will be therapeutically-focused and/or Winnie-the-Pooh themed,” Semrau said.
With COVID-19 guidelines still in place, Semrau said volunteers at the event will enforce social distancing guidelines and pass out masks. Tables and activities will all be appropriately distanced, Semrau said.
Hand sanitizer and gloves will be provided, Semrau said.
The free event is funded by Phoenix Rising, which is operated by donations and community grants, Semrau said. “There will be aspects that attendees may choose to spend money on,” Semrau said. “We are funding the event with donations, both material and financial, from community sponsors.”
Registration for the event is requested but not required, Semrau said. Registered attendees will have supplies reserved for them, but unregistered attendees will receive supplies on a first-come, first-serve basis, Semrau said.
Register at phoenixrisingky.org/events at the Eventbrite link.