By Nichole Harwood
Albuquerque families and children were brought together in a united effort at ABQ Party Space on April 30 from 4 to 7 p.m. for Blessed and Beautiful’s 4th Annual “Hands are for Hugging NOT Hurting” event, honoring children who have been lost to abuse and violence.
Sponsored by local businesses, the event provided free food, games, and prizes for attendees. Additionally, many special guests within the Albuquerque community came out to the event to lend support for the cause including professional development team New Mexico Runners and local professional fighters such as Matthew “Papitas” Esquibel and Aaron “Angel Baby” Perez.
Event coordinator Chantelle Martinez said that there was a tremendous effort to ensure that attendees and their families would be able to attend free of charge. The goal of Blessed and Beautiful’s 4th Annual “Hands are for Hugging NOT Hurting” was to not only celebrate the lives of the children lost to abuse and violence, but also to honor the children of families and show them that they are unique and loved.
Science teacher with Marie Hughes Elementary, Natalie Trujillo, gave a speech to attendees before performing a duet with her eight-year-old daughter, Adelina Garcia, where the two sang “Dancing in the Sky” by Dani and Lizzy, paying tribute to the lives of the children lost.
Trujillo encouraged attendees to put their foot down and be a voice for child abuse victims and those who can’t speak for themselves.
“Let’s help make a profound impact on a child’s life by doing something as simple as defending them,” she said. “Think about it. If you are uncomfortable or too afraid about getting involved in something so serious, imagine for one moment how a child must feel. They’re probably scared, ashamed and alone. That can change if we can learn to work together to report child abuse.”
In addition to building community awareness around the effects of child abuse and how to prevent and report it, the event held a talent show to continue their significant focus on celebrating children. For the talent show, every participant received a prize. Children performed several different acts including duet dancing and singing for onlookers. The show was all inclusive, and attendees embraced each child’s talent.
With an enthusiastic and engaged crowd in attendance, Martinez hoped that those who left the event went home knowing that they were loved while appreciating the difference a community can make when they come together.
“I want guests to understand the effects of child abuse and to know that every second with their kid is special. I want them to embrace the moment, love their kids and have fun with them,” Martinez said. “The days go by fast, and you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow.”
Photos by ABQ-Live intern Naomi Romero
Photos edited by ABQ-Live photographer Gabriel Aro