KENNEWICK -- Tri-Citians don't have to be victims of sexual assaults or child abuse to see the impact it has on people.
A trip to the Columbia Center mall this weekend will give them a glimpse of just how many children suffer trauma.
Little wooden characters will be on display as part of the Little People Project. They represent the more than 570 child abuse cases reported in Benton and Franklin counties this past year.
It's just one of many visual reminders that will be out in the community as a part of Sexual Assault Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention month.
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"The Tri-Cities is a great community, but this is very real," said Leticia Garcia, program director for the Sexual Assault Response Center. "Awareness is key in understanding the dynamics of abuse. It's not just children's responsibility to keep safe, it's everybody's responsibility."
The Little People also will be at Columbia Basin College on Monday and Tuesday, outside the Richland police station Wednesday and Thursday, and in front of the SARC office at 830 N. Columbia Center Blvd., Kennewick.
Garcia said having the Little People at places like the mall is an eye-opener for people.
"At first they come up and say 'Oh, they're so cute,' " but then they realize this represents a child victim and they say 'That's so sad, I cannot believe that happens in our community,' " Garcia said. "They can't wrap their head around the fact that it is real and it happens all the time."
The Little People also represent just the child abuse cases that are reported -- many more go unreported each year, she said.
This past week, people stopping by some of the libraries also had a chance to view T-shirts designed by sexual assault victims as part of the Clothesline Project.
Next weekend, on April 16, the community can support crime victims during the Strides of Strength milelong walk along Columbia Center Boulevard.
The past couple of years, SARC had the "Walk a Mile in her Shoes" walk, which is a national effort to support women victims.
Officials decided to change it to the Strides of Strength this year to include all crime victims.
Tri-Citians also can support Kids Haven, an advocacy center for child sexual abuse victims, through an online auction.
Items up for bid include Seattle Mariners tickets, lunches and trip packages. Bidding ends April 29, and SARC officials will have an end of auction event from 7-10 p.m. at their office that day.
To check out the auction items or make a bid, go to www.sarc.cmarket.com.