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In the Pipeline: Giving children care and hair

June 03, 2010|Chris Epting

Two stories this week highlighted some great efforts being made in Huntington Beach on behalf of kids, and by kids themselves.

We start by going back to 1991 San Diego. You may remember the tragic case of Leticia Hernandez, the Oceanside youngster who was kidnapped in 1989 during Christmastime. Her disappearance struck a sympathetic chord nationwide, and millions were shocked and saddened when her remains were discovered near the Pala Indian Reservation.

From the loss, though, sprung hope in the form of a program called KinderVision, a national child safety education program dedicated to the protection of children from abduction and sexual exploitation.

The idea was the brainchild of a marketing executive in the area, Doug Sebastian.

"There were just hardly any records kept on crimes like this back then," he told me. "There were actually tighter records kept on stolen cars than there were [for] missing children. And then-President Reagan became the person to really get things going in terms of focus and momentum to help combat the problem and so that made it easier for us to establish our program."

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Sebastian also credits late Angels owner Gene Autry for his strong support and commitment to helping the cause gain traction.

"Thanks to Golden West Broadcasting, Mr. Autry's company, we were really able to get the word out there," he said.

Developed with the assistance of law enforcement and other experts, KinderVision started developing free educational videos (and other materials) that were designed to be an ongoing resource for families, schools, law enforcement and youth-serving organizations to teach children how to be safe and avoid sexual predators.

The idea took off throughout Southern California, and then a connection through Major League Baseball helped put KinderVision on the map.

"MLB totally understood the connection to kids, and so they became a wonderful partner in helping us drive our mission of protecting children, teens and young adults from sexual exploitation and abduction," Sebastian said.

The reason I include the story of this vital organization today is that on Monday, KinderVision will start a long-term relationship with our city by holding one of its MLB spectacular charity golf tournaments at SeaCliff Country Club.

"The event will help us start some grass roots in Orange County, and our plan is to have this charity event here each year in Huntington Beach," Sebastian said.

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