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The Lisa Project comes to Sacramento

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Some secrets should be told, especially those surrounding child abuse. Reaching past the headlines in the newspaper, The Lisa Project has visitors experience the life of an abused child.

The Lisa Project is an interactive experience that educates visitors about the continued plight of child abuse, and the exhibit is now open to the public for the month of April, free of charge, at St. Rose of Lima Park.

Visitors walk into the exhibit, where they are handed iPods and introduced to Lisa (via the iPod), who narrates the tour and tells stories of other children, much like herself, who have suffered from abuse. Breaking her narration, voices of other children and their abusers are heard making each scene of abuse very real to visitors.

The exhibit awakens the senses – from looking into the bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, living rooms to hearing the sound of fighting and the smell of marijuana – as each room tells the visitor about a different child and a different type of abuse.

One of the rooms has articles from local media about specific instances of abuse, along with child abuse statistics in Sacramento County. According to The Lisa Project, locally there are 20,000 reports a year of child abuse, affecting 11 children a day or one child every two hours.

At the end of the tour is an opportunity for the visitor to write down their thoughts about what they just experienced. Then they are given the opportunity to ask questions, fill out the feedback forms, or talk with a professional counselor. Visitors are given resources to connect to partnering agencies in the community and information about what maltreatment is and how to report it. The exhibit is rated PG-13, and audio is available in English and Spanish.

For visitor Victoria Aldama, The Lisa Project was very emotional.

“I didn’t know there were so many levels of child abuse,” she said.

Her friend Erika Reyes said she appreciated how the exhibit reflected the realities of child abuse.

Housed in a large trailer at St. Rose of Lima Park in downtown, The Lisa Project has traveled throughout the Central Valley and will show in Manteca in June. The exhibit is presented by the Department of Social Services and the Office of Child Abuse Prevention.

The exhibit will be open to the public on Thursday and Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m., Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m. and Sundays 1 to 5 p.m. It will be closed Easter Sunday. There is an opportunity to schedule private tours by appointment only by calling Gina Pascual at 244-1906.

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