Elder Abuse Awareness day is June 15. Did you know that every day 10,000 people turn 65 in the United States alone?

That trend is going to continue for nearly the next 20 years. Our demographics are shifting, and we will soon have more elder people in the US than ever before. At the same time that the population is growing, we know that a startling number of elders face abusive conditions. Every year an estimated 5 million, or 1 in 10, older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. And that’s only part of the picture: Experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as 23.5 cases go unreported.

In efforts to bring awareness to elder abuse in Sampson County, Mid-Carolina Area Agency on Aging, Sampson County Department of Aging, Sampson County Department of Social Services, Sampson County Arts Council and Sampson County Schools joined forces to put an end to elder abuse through an art awareness contest. All eighth grade Sampson County art students were given a chance to design a piece of artwork that will bring about awareness of elder abuse in our community. Elder abuse includes; physical abuse, financial exploitation, rights violations, neglect, and psychological abuse. The theme: “My World… Your World… Our World – Free of Elder Abuse” was the focus.

Many students participated and have had their artwork displayed in Sampson County long-term care facilities during elder abuse awareness month May 8 – June 19, 2016. Entries were judged on creativity, originality, artistic quality, relevance to theme and visual clarity (ability to read text). One overall winner was chosen; as well as one winner from each school.

The overall winner for the Elder Abuse Art Contest was Christina Ramirez of Hobbton Middle

Winners from other schools include: Union Middle School — Alex Hernandez; Roseboro-Salemburg Middle School — Cory Shipway; Midway Middle School — Haylie A. Elkins.

Thank you to all who participated and made this campaign a success. Hopefully more people are informed in how to recognize and what to do if they suspect someone is suffering from elder abuse.