The Lisa Project is coming to Riverside County.
Last year, District Attorney Paul Zellerbach told the Riverside County Board of Supervisors that funds needed to be allocated to display the exhibit. Zellerbach announced plans to unveil the exhibit in Southwest County, Riverside and Palm Springs area.
The mobile exhibit, which brings to life the horrors of child abuse, will be open at The Galleria at Tyler Mall in Riverside from Friday to Oct. 7, and at the Hemet Valley Mall from Oct. 12 to 28 and at the Desert Crossing Shopping Center in Palm Springs from Nov. 2 to 18.
“We think it’s a really powerful message,” said Mary Parks, senior public information officer at the Riverside County District Attorney’s office. “While the exhibit is here, we’re hoping to find a lot of volunteers … maybe some really fantastic foster parents.”
The Child Abuse Prevention Council of San Joaquin County created the interactive exhibit, which originally opened in 2009. Operating out of a large trailer, the exhibit uses audio narration by actors to portray abused children. The displays in the exhibit provide windows into the lives of abused children.
“When you go in you get an iPod with sanitized ear buds,” Parks said. “You walk from room to room … each set up in a scenario and listen to stories of abuse from children.”
Rooms reflect scenarios such as a meth lab and an addicted parent, or teenager’s room housing a teen with a physically abusive father.
“When you walk from room to room, the visuals and even smells are there,” Parks said. “For example, there’s a simulated drug lab, with dirty dishes and fly strips hanging from the ceiling.”
At the end of the tour, there is information available for people who may wish to volunteer or become a foster parent. There are also licensed counselors available for anyone who may have past experience with child abuse.
Visitors are also asked to share their thoughts on the exhibit in a response form.
“We want to spread the message of preventing child abuse,” Parks said. “Maybe just seeing this will help people realize that even if they aren’t a parent or educator, if they see abuse, they’ll make the call to help.”
For more information on the exhibit, visit the www.thelisaproject.org.
Jennifer Dean is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.