On April 4, UTSA displayed decorated cardboard children as a part of the Cardboard Kids® campaign that was created in 2014 by ChildSafe, an organization that advocates for the protection of children who are abused and neglected.

The Cardboard Kids® is a citywide public awareness campaign used to draw attention to the pervasiveness of child abuse and the fact that every story is different and every child is unique. At UTSA, students were encouraged to decorate a cardboard child in a unique way to drive home this message.

“We always strive to build awareness about important issues,” Lydia Bueno, UTSA assistant dean of students and director of the Student Center for Community Engagement and Inclusion, said. “We want to encourage people to start conversations about this important issue and to use the resources on the ChildSafe website to help guide those conversations.”

UTSA’s Volunteer Organization Involving Community Education and Service (VOICES), Volunteer Services, Department of Social Work and First Lady Peggy Eighmy, who is a member of the ChildSafe Board of Directors, worked together to organize the campaign on campus.

“Cardboard Kids® are more than two-foot-tall cardboard figures,” Bueno said. “They represent the thousands of children that are abused and neglected at the hands of adults in our community each year. Cardboard Kids® start the conversation, not only by creating a visual symbol for children to identify with, but by also providing valuable tips for caregivers on how to talk to their children about child abuse and neglect.”

While VOICES has participated in the campaign since 2016, they invited the entire UTSA community to join for the first time this year, hoping to make a greater impact. This is the first year that UTSA served as an official distribution site for Cardboard Kids®. The ChildSafe organization dropped off 4,000 cardboard children at UTSA campuses so that members of the San Antonio community could pick them up to display on their own to show their support.

“We were overwhelmed by the number of participants in the Cardboard Kids® campaign,” Bueno said.

On Reveal Day, the day the cardboard children are initially displayed, over 1,800 cardboard children that were decorated by students, staff and organizations on campus were placed around the university..

Approximately 3,800 cardboard children were distributed between UTSA campuses and members of the community who took them home to share and display with their family and friends. Due to the success of this campaign, UTSA’s VOICES will be participating again next year.

“ChildSafe staff has shared that because of the Cardboard Kids’ campaign, children have already made outcries of abuse,” Bueno said. “This demonstrates why the Cardboard Kids’ campaign is so important.”

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