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Urania Castaneda: The Globetrotting Giver

A dedicated staff member of the child abuse response team at our Bronx Child Advocacy Center, Urania Castaneda combined her love of helping child victims of abuse with a lifelong dream when she traveled the world raising money and awareness for these critical facilities

Urania Castaneda, director of clinical and forensic services at our Bronx Child Advocacy Center (CAC)

Passionate and bursting with positive energy, Urania Castaneda is dedicated to helping child victims of abuse in as many ways as possible. As the director of clinical and forensic services at our Child Advocacy Center (CAC) in the Bronx, she empowers child victims of abuse, trains her team of clinical forensic specialists social workers to help other children do the same, and raises money to support the work of Safe Horizon.

Located throughout the five boroughs of New York City, our CACs have a multidisciplinary team of experts who work together to investigate, respond to, and prosecute cases of child sexual and severe physical abuse. This team, based at each CAC includes: child protective staff from the NYC Administration from Children’s Services, detectives from the New York Police Department’s Child Abuse Squad, medical professionals from premier hospitals, Assistant District Attorneys, and mental health and support staff from Safe Horizon.

In an effort to limit the number of times that a child will need to be interviewed, the CAC coordinates a single initial interview of each child called a forensic interview. This interview helps the team of experts determine how to address the immediate needs of the child and facilitate the gathering of information vital to the investigation of the case.

Children may still have difficulty opening up during this process because their trust has been violated. Often this trust has been violated by someone related or an authoritative figure who was meant to protect them. That’s why it’s critical to make children feel safe and lead the conversation in a nonjudgmental manner. “When a child comes in completely distraught and nervous and gives me permission to help during the interview, I feel that I can give him or her enough support to open up and be comfortable.”

Members of the BXCAC Warriors

Raising Team Spirit

In addition to directly helping child victims of abuse, Urania collaborates with her staff to raise money through Safe Horizon’s grassroots fundraising group, Team Horizon. Their group, BXCAC Warriors, participate in various runs and grueling obstacle courses called Spartan Races and have raised over $1,400 to-date.

The most recent race combined Urania’s love of giving back with a lifelong dream. “When I was younger, it was my dream to go backpacking around the world. Twenty years later I decided to make it happen by putting it on my vision board. Within the course of a month, things just webbed into place.”

Urania had the people she met in Europe sign her Safe Horizon shirt

Urania and BXCAC Warriors members have even backpacked across Europe to participate in Spartan Races in France and Spain. The people she met in Europe were inspired to support her journey. “In France they let me speak on stage and everyone signed my Safe Horizon shirt, which I wore for both races. In Spain they invited me to conduct a small training at a hospital for the doctors and consultants.”

Leaps of Faith

These life-changing experiences taught Urania to embrace life’s obstacles and strengthened her spirit to continue to help abused children. “When you’re working with child victims of abuse, you often lose yourself in the work and you see a lot of ugliness. When I came back from Europe, I fell in love with people and the world all over again.”

The trip also served as a somber reminder of the great need for the CAC model to be implemented on a global scale. “Their interest in the model of the CACs makes me realize that there is still work to be done at an international level.”

Urania and BXCAC Warriors latest endeavor will be participating in the 2016 Panasonic New York City Triathlon. You can show your support and be part of BXCAC Warriors’ efforts by donating to their fundraising page today. You’ll be contributing to the critical support to help abused children everywhere.