Lauren Book puts action to words.
The author, activist and abuse survivor will complete her annual 1,500-mile walk from the Keys to Tallahassee on Wednesday, capped off with a rally to bring awareness to the problem of sexual abuse of children.
The 30-year-old former teacher told her family 13 years ago about abuse she experienced as a child at the hands of a nanny. Six years ago she started walking across Florida and talking to people to people about sexual abuse, a topic difficult for people in general and victims specifically to discuss.
“I want to empower survivors. I want to let the young survivors know they have a voice,” Book said Monday while on her way to talk to students at a Tallahassee high school. “I want to show people that you can be a thriving survivor.”
When Book isn’t walking and talking she is writing a blog, starting a foundation, appearing on television, and visiting schools and child centers to talk about how to protect children.
Book started the 2015 walk on March 14 at a child advocacy center in Key West, a trek she has made every year since 2010. She has told her story thousands of times. Hundreds of people have walked up to her and spontaneously told her their stories. Book does the annual media event so that when the media shows up she uses her time in the spotlight to talk to young survivors and tell them, “You are not alone.”
When Book treks up the hill to the Old Capitol Wednesday she will be joined by hundreds of child advocates and survivors for the final steps of this year’s walk.
“It’s humbling to have all this support to move this movement and bring a face and a positive voice to an issue people are afraid to look at,” Book said.
Expected to be on hand to greet Book when she completes the walk will be Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet. Her arrival at the Old Capitol at about 4:45 p.m. Wednesday will start a rally and a family-friendly block party to impart safety tips and tools to keep children safe.