Buddies get walkabout practice before big day
A flurry of cardboard cutout kids is about to descend on Hamilton as Child Matters prepares for the second annual Buddy Day.
Child Matters began Buddy Day last year with the purpose of raising awareness of the issue of child abuse, to encourage more people to take action and speak up when they believe a child is in danger.
Buddy Day is focused around life-size cardboard children - ‘buddies' - who are decorated by children from schools in the Waikato area prior to the event and then adopted by adults who look after the buddies for the day.
Buddy Day organiser, Heather Claycomb said 335 buddies were dropped off at schools and childcare centres this week for children to decorate and bond with before Buddy Day on November 16.
"So the buddies will get a name and a story of where he or she came from and you give them a life basically."
The 335 buddies are a representative of 20 per cent of the 1683 cases of child abuse in the Waikato in the past year.
Organiser Jacqui Humm said the aim was to get the buddies adopted and displayed around town by everyday people.
"It's very much about mainstream people adopting the buddies because while there are some social services that are going to adopt the buddies on the day, they're already engaged. It's about engaging mainstream people in preventing child abuse."
Ms Claycomb agreed that it was important to send this message through people such as politicians, community leaders and business leaders.
"I think one of the misconceptions about child abuse is that it happens to ‘those people over there, not in my community'. That's who we really target on Buddy Day . . . people that have that opinion."
The day will kick off with a breakfast at Claudelands Event Centre where adopters will pick up their buddy before hitting the streets with them.
Organisers say they urge adopters to talk to at least 25 people throughout the day about child abuse and record the conversations by asking people to sign the Buddy's book.
The main Buddy Day event will take place in Hamilton on November 16. However Child Matters is providing "event kits" for purchase online to allow all New Zealanders to participate in the awareness day this year.
Hamilton-based people interested in participating in Buddy Day 2012 can now sign up online to either decorate or care for Buddies at www.buddyday.org.nz