Tackling crimes against children is at the heart of the National Children's Advocacy Center in Huntsville.
WAAY 31 is Connecting North Alabama and recognizing the incredible work of some of the individuals who stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the NCAC to protect the children in our community.
The NCAC selected Christina Paparella as their February Superhero. For the last 20 years, Paparella has served as a pediatric nurse practitioner at the center. She's part of the group that provides a team approach to the investigation into child abuse claims and the care a child receives to heal from the trauma. It consists of medical and mental health services, law enforcement, district attorneys and family and victim advocate services.
Paparella heard about the NCAC through her work in pediatric care and wanted to learn more about the mission. After touring the facility, she decided to become a part of the hope and healing.
"Once I got there and met everyone, and saw the model and that there was a need for it, and that children were being abused right here in our county and needed a medical provider, I thought, 'Well, somebody's got to do it,'" explained Paparella. "It might as well be me, because we're going to make it as least traumatic and 'normal' as we can."
According to the NCAC, Paparella has conducted thousands of exams in child physical and sexual abuse cases. She examines each child on the worst day of their life while making them smile and laugh throughout the process.
When children step away from their interview, hope and healing begin, as Paparella assures them that they are safe and physically healthy.