The City of Fort Wayne today announced a partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children as a way to keep the community'€™s children safe.

The program will include community gatherings to educate parents and children. The sessions will focus on child safety and the prevention of abduction and sexual exploitation.

The first event will be a remembrance ceremony, “Fort Wayne Remembers,” in honor of Alejandra Gutierrez and other local children who have been victims of violent crime. The program will include a candlelight vigil, music by South Side High School students, a poetry reading by Lindley Elementary School students, as well as free fingerprinting and  ID photos for children as a way for parents and law enforcement to have fingerprints and identification of children as a safety precaution if a child becomes lost or is abducted.

The event will be held from 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, December 13, at St. Patrick'€™s Church, 2120 S. Harrison St. The program will be bilingual and Spanish interpreters will be available. The event is free and open to the public.

Program partners along with the Mayor'€™s office and the Fort Wayne Police Department include: AISEDA, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, Center for Non Violence, Fifth Third Bank, Forth Insurance Agency, Fort Wayne Community Schools, Hispanic Leadership Coalition of NE Indiana, SCAN, St. Patrick'€™s Church, United Hispanic Americans, Visiting Nurse and Hospice Home, Wal-Mart, YMCA, and YWCA.

Fort Wayne'€™s partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is a great example of our community'€™s commitment to keeping children as safe as possible,” said Ric Robles, Hispanic Liaison Officer for the Fort Wayne Police Department. “We look forward to providing important and meaningful information to families as our community comes together to protect children.”

Additional educational training opportunities will be presented to the community in 2007.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children serves as a national clearinghouse for information and a resource for child protection. It works in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice. Since 1984, the Center has assisted law enforcement in finding more than 83,000 children, who had been previously lost or abducted.