Flour Bluff ISD honors assault survivors with toy drive

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Kaylie Kelley, a freshman at Flour Bluff High School, hopes to educate her peers about sexual assault and how common it is.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Making survivors heard and feeling safe is the mission of a Flour Bluff high school student.

It’s the biggest goal behind a teddy bear drive that took place at the school, led by freshman Kaylie Kelley, who is working to educate her peers on the subject of bullying and how it can impact someone’s life.

“I think students at our school need to be better educated about assaults, how common they are, and how serious a problem is at school,” Kelley said.

Through the drive, she says she hopes to teach her classmates and community to overcome fear and use your voice, and explains the meaning behind the bears:

“I want other students to know that it’s good to come forward and that they should come forward with their stories,” Kelley said. “Because there will always be someone to help them. And the teddy bears are what you get from the forensic interview.”

Kelley is a survivor of sexual assault and wants other survivors to feel the level of protection she experienced when she received her teddy bear after telling her story.

“It can be a traumatic experience,” Kelley said. “And I personally know it’s very scary, so the teddy bear brings comfort to the situation. And it will always remind you that you have protected yourself and that you are brave.”

Cassandra Hinojosa of the Children’s Advocacy Center of the Coastal Bend says that while it can be a scary thing to think about or talk about, it’s extremely important to raise awareness about the prevalence of sexual assault and abuse. This way people are also aware of the help that is out there.

“We provide free services to about 1,500 children each year,” Hinojosa said.

The center offers free services such as free forensic interviews, free therapy and referrals for therapy if children need a medical examination.

“To help these children, provide them with the resources they need to bring them healing and to help restore their lives and their futures,” Hinojosa said.

Kelley adds that sometimes it’s the little things that can make all the difference in a difficult situation.

“The teddy bear really helped me out,” Kelley said. “I felt the kids in our community would donate because we have a great community here and it’s worked out so far.”

Drop boxes can be found at the entrances to Flour Bluff ISD Schools, as well as: Coast Guard Unit, Surfside Sandwich Shoppe, Bluffalo Wings Company, and Scuttlebutts Bar and Grill.

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