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Krista Polding and her dog Rory run past some of the 309 wooden cutouts representing a boy and a girl, called the “Blue Kids,” along a stretch of Lakewalk near Leif Erikson Park in Duluth on Monday morning. The cutouts mark the 309 donations made in April to First Witness, an organization which advocates for child abuse victims. (Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com)

‘Blue Kids’ along Lakewalk represent donations to help fight child abuse

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More than 300 blue, wooden cutouts representing donations to help fight child abuse lined Duluth’s Lakewalk on Monday.

The “I Stand with Kids” cutouts were purchased by local businesses, nonprofits and individuals in support of First Witness Child Abuse Resource Center during National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Donations of $20 to $50 for each cutout raised about $10,000, First Witness board member Rob Karwath said at a news conference in Leif Erikson Park.

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The “Blue Kids” were displayed along the Lakewalk to represent each donation.

Beth Olson, the director of First Witness, said the 309 donations meant the goal for April had been reached. It also showed that an effort to engage the public, getting people to think more openly about child abuse, also was successful, Olson said.

The “I Stand with Kids” campaign was recognized by the city, with Mayor Don Ness declaring Monday as “I Stand With Kids” Day.

First Witness performs interviews of children 12 and younger who report or are subjects of abuse. Children are interviewed once with involvement from law enforcement to prevent further harm linked to their experiences.

Karwath said it’s important to spread the message to prevent abuse by reaching out to the community.

First Witness is celebrating 20 years in Duluth and helped 1,917 children in 2013.

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