MILWAUKEE — One plaque at a time, a group in Milwaukee is honoring children who have died from child abuse with a Memory Garden. However, the main goal isn't to memorialize these children, but to make sure no more children end up in this garden.
“No parent should ever have to bury their child, and we want to see to it that justice is served for each one of these children," Leonard 'Steeler' Johnson, the public relations director of the Guardians of the Children, said.
Guardians of the Children is a non-profit group in southeastern Wisconsin that is leading the charge against child abuse. They offer support to children when they are in a courtroom, mentor programs, and host monthly events for the kids like going to Brewers games or camping outings. There are about 100 kids who receiving support and benefits from the organization.
At the Memory Garden, a tree is planted for every victim of abuse. Along with the tree, a plaque and colorful rock are installed. In the seven years the group has been active, they have planted more than a dozen trees.
"One of the things that I don’t like to see is when somebody says, 'Well, I thought something was happening, but I wasn’t sure, and I didn’t say anything.' I want people to speak up for these children ahead of time before it gets to the point where they’re in our garden," Steeler said.
The goal is to give these kids their childhoods back and make sure no more have to memorialized.
"It hurts to know that we are constantly adding children to this memory garden," Steler said.
You can help the organization on their mission to end child abuse and help victims of it. The group is hosting its annual soup cook-off fundraiser March 12 from noon to 5 p.m. at Bub's Irish Pub in Germantown. There will be raffles, cash giveaways, a silent auction, and a live auction that includes a six-person hunting trip to South Africa valued at $15,000. You can get in touch with the organization by contacting them through its Facebook page.
"We want these kids to go from victims to victors. We want to see them succeed, and we’ve had that in our chapter now where we’ve had kids now that have graduated out of high school and gone on to college now," Steeler said.