WASHINGTON Elizabeth Smart helped the Justice Department unveil a new pamphlet aimed at children who have returned home after being abducted.
The pamphlet was presented at the National Missing Children's Day Ceremony Wednesday at the department headquarters.
At the same ceremony, Elizabeth's father Ed Smart gave a speech, the department honored Lt. Jessica Farnsworth from the Utah Attorney General's Office of Investigations and a fifth grader from Sandy displayed her winning poster to commemorate the occasion.
"Our children are our nation's most valuable treasure. It is therefore an honor to acknowledge those who work to make childhood the safe and hopeful time it should be," said Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey.
Elizabeth Smart and four other survivors of abductions met twice over the past year to work on the pamphlet, "You're Not Alone: The Journey from Abduction To Empowerment."
Designed to look like a journal, Smart and the co-authors told stories of their abduction and how they dealt with their emotions once they arrived home.
Just more than five years ago, Elizabeth Smart was found safe and returned home after being abducted for nine months. The cases against Brian David Mitchell and his estranged wife and co-defendant, Wanda Barzee, both charged with kidnapping Smart, have been delayed due to other court hearings on their mental competencies.
The department already had printed pamphlets for parents and families on how to cope with a missing child, pamphlets for the siblings left behind and now the latest one for those who return home themselves.
"As you are all too aware, the journey can be tough," Smart and the four other authors write. "Our experiences the abduction itself, our responses to it, and other life events have shaped our lives in ways that we didn't always expect. We are who we are today because we chose to turn a negative experience into a positive one and to move forward on our journey from abduction to empowerment."
Smart said she has talked with other people who came home after abduction but not in the way the four of them discussed what to put in the book.
"I thought about it a lot," Smart said, after the department asked her to participate. "It finally came down to it, it was something that needed to be done."
In her section of the pamphlet called "Elizabeth's Story," Smart describes how she was kidnapped from her bed. She said she had no idea how big the search was for her and even today people still come up to her "and tell me how much they searched for me and prayed for my safe return."
She describes how once at home, she made a "conscious decision" that it was not worth living in the past and letting her abductors steal more time away from her life. She tells how she got through the ordeal and advises those just coming home to that, they can control what they tell others about their ordeal.
"In other people's minds, I will always be 14 years old like the day I came home. But you have an opportunity to show them that's not who you are. You have so much more to offer. If you give them a chance to get to know you, you can change that image," she wrote.
She writes that setting goals, playing her harp, talking with her family and her faith all helped her.
"Having faith has helped me to understand some of the reasons why I had to go through what I did," Smart writes." "In my experience, having religion as a part of my life not only helped me understand my trials better and brought me comfort, but it also provided a support group for me from other members of my faith."
At the same event, the Justice Department honored Farnsworth with the AMBER Alert Law Enforcement Award for helping create the Utah Attorney General's Child Abduction Response Team.
Farnsworth said she found out about the award about a month ago and was "really surprised."
She had nominated someone else for a similar award and thought the department was calling about that when they were calling to let her know she would honored.
"It's a powerful experience," said Farnsworth, who has been working on child abuse for 20 years.
"I want to have all the resources anyone would need to find a child," she said.Doyoun Park, a fifth grader from Quail Hollow Elementary School in Sandy won the 2008 National Missing Children's Day Poster Contest, so his artwork will be used in next year's ceremony on stage and printed on lapel ribbons people will wear to commemorate the ceremony.
E-mail: [email protected]