Lawmakers are lacing up their walking shoes as Sen. Lauren Book and her Lauren’s Kids Foundation prepare a multiday walk at the Capitol for child sexual abuse awareness.
That event intends to honor the 42 million survivors of child sexual abuse living in the U.S. Treadmills will be placed inside The Capitol where lawmakers, abuse survivors and others will take turns walking from noon Tuesday until noon Thursday.
Among the elected officials joining Book for the walk is Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Sens. Aaron Bean, Wilton Simpson, Annette Taddeo and Tom Wright, and Rep. Melony Bell.
The Capitol walk is an extension of Lauren’s Kids’ annual “Walk in My Shoes” event, a multiday trek between Key West and Tallahassee.
During the 2019 Session, Book’s foundation switched things up and used the Capitol to host the walk. Book says she chose Tallahassee for the walk due to its pivotal role in improving the lives of those affected by abuse.
“I’ve always found that this is a place where true change takes place,” Book said.
“It’s just become such a special piece for me in watching these survivors grow into becoming thriving individuals that does not allow this to define them.”
During Regular Session, as in 2019, the event would be held in April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. But with lawmakers meeting early due to the election year, Book’s event got bumped up as well.
Several other groups also plan to walk on behalf of survivors. That includes police officers who have responded to abuse allegations, as well as trauma therapists walking one minute for each client they’ve seen over the year.
Book says she can still vividly remember the day she first disclosed her own abuse as a child.
“It was a bad time. It was a really difficult time.”
Book started Lauren’s Kids to help other abuse survivors get help and support. When the group launched its first Walk in My Shoes event, Book said she used it to “shed the bad” stemming from the trauma she experienced.
With more attention and support rallied for the issue, Book says attendees see it as something fully empowering.
“You can heal, you can survive, and you will thrive if you do the work,” Book said.
“I wish that I had a model for that when I was growing up. It’s remarkable when you see these kids. And I think there’s this perception that ‘we’re broken, we’re always going to be broken.’ And that’s not what they have. When I look at the kids today who come out and walk with us, they’re proud. They’re proud that they’re creating a different identity, a different family, a different world for themselves.”
The multiday event will stream at LaurensKids.org.
— TODAY’S SUNRISE —
On today’s Sunrise:
— A Senate committee approves raising the legal age for vaping and smoking from 18 to 21, but as things became a bit complicated, the issue gets split into two separate bills.
— A House committee votes to shine a light on impact fees charged by local governments
— A proposal to punish doctors who perform gender selection surgery on minors is workshopped but does not get a vote. And that’s about all it will get this Session.
— While Hurricane Dorian didn’t do any real damage to Florida, customers of Duke Energy will be paying anyway. The PSC votes on a Dorian surcharge that will cost consumers about $170 million over the next year.
— And the story of Florida Man, who was charged with attempted murder after police identified him by DNA in his own sock.