Honoring Albany's 19-month-old Janaysia Stevenson
Authorities say Janaysia was the victim of child abuse.
"Joy," said Janaysia's grandfather, Peter Stevenson. "Love. Compassion. Funny. She was an inspiration. She was my heart."
Stevenson joined city leaders, law enforcement, and local business merchants at a ceremony dedicated to his granddaughter's memory at Albany's Lily Pad on Wednesday. "It was just wonderful to be able to spend as much time as I did, almost all of her life with me," he said. "It was just remarkable to know her and to love her."
Lily Pad announced its Janaysia's Joy campaign, which will collect pieces of luggage for the community so children escaping abusive situations do not have to carry their belongings in a garbage bag.
Janaysia's mother and her mother's boyfriend are each facing murder charges in connection to the child's death and the director of her daycare facility was arrested on Tuesday for failing to report signs of abuse.
"It's okay to make that phone call anonymously or to identify yourself when you call the Department of Child and Human Services," said Amy Boney of Children's Advocacy Centers. "You do not have to have evidence. That's the investigator's job."
"Children can't speak for themselves in a lot of situations," said Det. Kawaski Barnes of the Albany Police Dept. "Adults, as law enforcement, healthcare providers, just people in the community, have to speak up for the children."
Each of the 1,000 pinwheels represents an abused child that came through the doors of Lily Pad in the last year. The rates of sexual assault are especially alarming. One out of every four females and one out of every six males will be sexually abused by the time they're 18.
"It's time for us to sit back and look very hard at what we can do to not only intervene and provide follow-up service but to prevent," added Boney.