Cherishing Families…Affirming Families

By Sharon Pierce, President & CEO of The Villages

April marks Child Abuse Prevention month and this year’s theme is “CHERISHING CHILDREN…AFFIRMING FAMILIES!” In partnership with Prevent Child Abuse America, Prevent Child Abuse Indiana has “re-framed” Child Abuse Prevention Month to focus on the “promise” that the future and well being of EVERY child affords us.

This year, champions for children planted 1,000 Blue Pinwheels in the lawn at the Indiana State Museum to represent the number of children born in Indiana last year. Just one Pinwheel represents eighty-seven (87) live births…that’s 87,000 children born in 2009 that need to be cherished, safe, and nurtured!

Imagine the “human capital” that 87,000 Hoosiers who are nurtured in a family… healthy, well educated, and self sufficient can have in just a few years on our neighborhoods, our schools, our communities, our businesses, our government, and our State!

That is the essence of both the challenges and the opportunities which lay before us. But by CHERISHING CHILDREN AND AFFIRMING FAMILIES… by treasuring and protecting each child to acknowledge how truly valuable they are, our vision can become a REALITY! We celebrate the HOPE which these 87,000 new infants stand for…but we are also creating a legacy which will honor the children who tragically lost their lives to child abuse and neglect in Indiana last year.

Prevent Child Abuse Indiana, a Division of The Villages, in collaboration with Dr. Eugene White, Superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools, has championed a THINK TANK of solution-minded community leaders and organizations who are working diligently to make supporting parents one of their highest priorities. The KIDS CAN’T WAIT initiative is a reminder to ALL of us that there is an urgent need for parental support and education for EVERY family.

Our collective message is a simple one… IT IS A SIGN OF STRENGTH, AS A PARENT OR CAREGIVER OF CHILDREN, TO ASK FOR HELP AND SUPPORT! WTHR has developed some new, dynamic public service announcements featuring several of our dedicated community leaders, which will air in the near future! Billboards reminding parents that sometimes WE are the ones who need a TIME OUT are placed throughout the city! Prevent Child Abuse Indiana operates a 1-800-CHILDREN line, to provide information for parents who are seeking a parent education class or a supportive service in their neighborhood. And for our technologically savvy parents, IndianaKidsCantWait.org is available as a “starting point” for parent information.

Our hope and prayer is that EVERY Indiana citizen will become engaged in the lives of our Hoosier children…and cherish each child as if he or she were YOUR OWN!

I often share that being blessed to be the parent of four children is the most difficult job of ANY listed on my resume…but it’s also the most important! This April, and EACH MONTH throughout the year, we are imploring EVERY citizen in Indiana to CHERISH OUR CHILDREN…
To TREASURE Our Children…
To PROTECT Our Children…
To NURTURE Our Children…
To TEACH Our Children…
And to CELEBRATE Our Children!

There’s an urgency in Indiana to keep our children healthy, loved and safe!

How? Start with YOUR OWN CHILDREN…making them your Highest Priority! Embrace the child next door to you who seems hungry for affection! Reach out to a Grandparent who is heroically raising her grandchildren! Or help the child in your school or faith community who most needs it!

Why? As our beautiful children remind us…we need to be CHERISHING CHILDREN AND AFFIRMING FAMILIES…

BECAUSE KIDS CAN’T WAIT!
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