Last year 33,970 children were abused and/or neglected in Michigan. April 2014 is federally designated as well as proclaimed by Gov. Rick Snyder as Child Abuse Prevention Month. It is a time to reflect on that sobering number of abused and neglected children and the work that is still needed to accomplish the goal of every child having an opportunity to achieve his or her full potential within a nurturing and loving environment. However, it is also the time to celebrate the good things communities all over the State of Michigan are doing to promote healthy child development. It is also a time when we can honor each and every child and family within our state.
We have a role to play in healthy child development, and our goal this April is to help others recognize that role and the ways in which we can maximize our impact. When communities throughout Michigan come together to support children and families, we all benefit: our fellow citizens are better educated, employees are more effective and miss less work, and we’ll see a profound impact on the quality of life in the communities in which families live.
To remind all of us about the importance of healthy child development, pinwheels have been established as the new national symbol for child abuse prevention. They serve as a visual reminder that all children deserve an equal opportunity for healthy, happy and care-free childhoods. Beginning April 1 and throughout Child Abuse Prevention Month, nearly 80 pinwheel “gardens” will spring up across our state as visual reminders that we all play a role in ensuring happy and healthy childhoods for all children everywhere.
On April 22 at 11 a.m. the Michigan Children’s Trust Fund, the agency of the State of Michigan whose mission is dedicated to child abuse and neglect prevention, will be hosting its 6th annual Prevention Awareness Day event, a rally, procession and planting of a pinwheel “garden.” The event’s theme, “The Power of One,” serves to remind us that one person, one community, one dollar and one action can help protect our children from abuse and neglect. The event will begin at the Lansing State Capitol steps. The rally portion of the event includes notable speakers and entertainment. Participants will then receive a pinwheel and proceed down Michigan Avenue where they will all plant those pinwheels at the traffic circle garden at Michigan and Washington Avenues. By participating at this auspicious occasion, you and your organization join with others as a positive presence of support in the belief that child abuse and neglect can be prevented. We hope that you will join us in Lansing for this important occasion.
Estimates show that implementing effective policies and strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect can save taxpayers more than $104 billion a year. Imagine the number of children that could go to college with that savings. Please join us in helping make Michigan the best place for children to live, grow and thrive.
Emily Schuster-Wachsberger, MA LPC, is the State Local Council Coordinator for the Michigan’s Children Trust Fund.