Date: Dec. 29, 2011
Contact: Carol Connelly, Director,
Media & Communication Services, ext. 5267, firstname.lastname@example.org
PNC Students Honor Young Victims of Domestic Abuse
L-R: Carolyn Pessmeg, Alyssa Pierce and Leanna Overmyer
Westville When students in the Purdue University North Central Club, Purdue Learning About Young Children in Education (PLAYCE) decided to enter the campus holiday tree decorating contest, they decided their tree would carry a message to all who viewed it.
The club members are Early childhood Education majors who decorated their tree in purple and white the colors of domestic abuse awareness took first place in the annual contest. These bright colors, however, carry a somber message.
The concept for the tree emerged from a student project in the Early Childhood Education course taught by Dr. Mary Jane Eisenhauer, assistant professor of Early Childhood Education. The students were assigned to create an advocacy campaign for a current issue in the field. They were asked to research their selected topic, create a multi-media presentation for the class and then give a call to action.
Early Childhood Education majors Carolyn Pessmeg, of Valparaiso and James Poplawski, of Michigan City, worked together and chose to research the effects of domestic abuse on young children. Their research showed that nine children died in Indiana last year as a result of domestic violence.
And so they decided a two-fold call to action for their classmates suggesting that the PLAYCE place tree in the annual tree-decorating competition be decorated in purple and white to raise awareness of this issue and collecting items from the wish list of The Caring Place, shelter for women and children who are escaping from violence in Valparaiso, to donate.
The wish list items were modest and included everyday items such as school supplies, cleaning supplies, towels, hand soap, diapers, baby wipes, paper products, notebook paper, crayons, board games and similar necessities.
The students immediately took on the project. They recognized that if each person contributed just one item, together it would make a big impact. The response to the call for donations was overwhelming. The donated items went under the tree as gifts.
As the students decorated their tree, they selected symbolic purple ribbons and glittered ornaments. Each ornament featured quotes and statements from students in the class about what they learned from the presentation.
Each stocking on the tree carried a message too. They included observations such as "love shouldn't hurt" or "all children deserve to be heard." Some students wrote longer statements affirming their commitment to children. Tucked in the stockings are the names of each of the nine young victims with details about their murders.
Eisenhauer acknowledged the generosity of her students and their willingness to step in to help children in need, This is a meaningful thoughtful application of what they are learning in class to use the real world.