Shine the Light raises child abuse awareness

Jake Old • May 1, 2017 at 2:26 PM

The inaugural Shine the Light event, held by the Keith Edmonds Foundation, saw members of the community come together to raise awareness of child abuse and celebrate survivors.

The event celebrated the life of Josh Osborne, the victim of a particularly gruesome case of child abuse in Wilson County.

Osborne was found in 2004 in his Lebanon home after he was tied to a bed for nine years and only allowed to have soup and water. The 15 year old only weighed 50 pounds when he was discovered.

Osborne’s case led to tougher child abuse laws in the state. Osborne died in 2014 at 24 years old due to complications from the years of abuse.

Edmonds, founder of the Keith Edmonds Foundation and a survivor of child abuse, said seeing the community response in April, which was Child Abuse Awareness Month, was an emotional experience.

“God gave me an amazing vision,” Edmonds said. “He took me from a dark place to the light. I want to shine that light with other people.”

Students from Wilson County Schools participated in the family event, and the Keith Edmonds Foundation will present the school with the most students in attendance with an award. The winning school will be announced in the near future, according to Edmonds.

The pinwheel has come to be a symbol of child abuse awareness. Each year, a pinwheel garden is placed along West Main Street at the beginning of April, representing each child interviewed by the Child Advocacy Center.

At Shine the Light, attendees formed a human pinwheel, and Edmonds said it was the first human pinwheel in the country.

 “I did some research online, and as far as I can tell, that’s a world record,” Edmonds said. “To my knowledge, there’s not been a human pinwheel like that, and definitely not one that big.”

The biggest goal of the event, and the foundation’s other community endeavors, is to get beyond the taboo of the topic of child abuse.

“It’s a tough subject, and it can be taboo for a lot of people,” Edmonds said. “They don’t want to talk about it. That’s why it’s big for us to have an upbeat, inspiring message. The best way to knock down the taboo wall is through positivity, inspiration and education. That’s why we played upbeat music, had bounce houses for the kids and had a very family-friendly environment.”

Reaching children with a message of child abuse awareness is among the most important things the foundation can do, Edmonds said.

“Those kids that are joining us, they may not know it, but they’re raising awareness at these events,” Edmonds said. “

The event will be annualized, Edmonds said. Planning on this year’s event started in January, and board members met every other week to make plans.

“It will be going on long after you and I are gone,” Edmonds said. “I often say this, and my wife laughs at me, but Wilson County is the epicenter, a nucleus of a movement of child abuse awareness. The best part is the community is really coming around and supporting us.”


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