2019 Children's Garden: planting flowers

Casa Grande Union High School senior Tara Lynch helps second graders Ella Heward and Mila Mendez plant flowers Friday during at City Hall. The garden, which is replanted by students every year, is a memorial to all children who have been victims of abuse in the community.

CASA GRANDE — Students from six Casa Grande schools got a chance to get their hands dirty Friday planting flowers in front of City Hall. The planting was part of the City Attorney’s Office’s 15th annual Children’s Flower Garden event.

“We all have the freedom to be free from violence,” Casa Grande Mayor Pro Tem Donna McBride told the students. “By doing this today, and what you are starting today, is a message to every adult in our community that you understand it (child abuse) and that you’re standing up against it.”

Casa Grande students replant the flower bed every year in memory of local children who have been victims of abuse. This year’s theme was a quote from Disney’s “The Lion King”: “Look inside yourself. You are more than what you have become.” The flowers were provided by Artistic Land Management. The Blue Notes, the Cougar Spirit Line and the band woodwind section from Casa Grande Union High School also performed for the students.

“We need to educate you — the children, the families and the community about domestic violence and child abuse. How to recognize the signs and put an end to it,” said Richard Rosales, community affairs manager for Arizona Public Service Co. He encouraged students to report any abuse they see to a family member or teacher.

This year’s guest speaker was Olivia Calderon, a singer who has performed on “America’s Got Talent” and is a detention officer for Tempe Police Department. She asked the students if they understood what domestic violence is.

“We know what’s right and what’s wrong,” she said. “So what do we do when we see that? We might not experience that at home. We might hear it from a friend.”

She encouraged them to go to a teacher, go to a family member or go to a police officer to report abuse. Calderon said as a detention officer she sees a lot of people who are arrested because of domestic violence and sees a lot of victims who have been removed from an unsafe situation.

She told the students that she would always be a friend they could come to in need and pointed out that their classmates are also friends they could go to in need.

Calderon also spoke of her experience on “America’s Got Talent,” her passion for music and her goals in life.

“No matter what the situation may be in your life right now, we have to go through. We have to go past those obstacles in our life. Don’t let anything stop you. If you set a goal, reach toward that goal,” she said. “Music has always been my passion. If you have a passion, take it as far as you possibly can. You can have many passions. Don’t limit yourself in life.”