The Berenstain Bears, national “spokesbears” for Prevent Child Abuse America, posed for pictures and handed out books to area kindergarteners following the Winds of Change press conference Friday morning at the Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science in Tallahassee.
The event launched Prevent Child Abuse Florida’s sixth annual Winds of Change campaign, a statewide campaign that recognizes April as Child Abuse Prevention Month by promoting healthy child development, positive parenting and community action.
“Pinwheel displays in Florida communities and across the nation represent a significant change in the way we think about prevention. We are focusing on community activities and public policies that prioritize prevention before problems emerge, because research has proven prevention is more effective and less costly, in both human and budgetary terms, than waiting to intervene until families are already in crisis,” said PCA Florida Executive Director Christie Ferris.
“Early childhood experiences influence a child’s developing brain and provide the foundation for all future stages of growth. While stable, nurturing experiences can help children cultivate the resilience to overcome typical adversities in life, experiencing child abuse and neglect can be devastating to child development, often setting in motion a chain of events that have lifelong consequences as children grow to adulthood,” said Florida Department of Health’s Deputy Secretary for Children’s Medical Services, Dr. Joseph Chiaro.
“Our economic recession has created increasing stress for Florida's families on all fronts," said Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon. "Preventative services are critical now more than ever to help ensure the safety and welfare of our children during such tough times. We all have a responsibility to help equip parents with the resources they need to accomplish this crucial and increasingly challenging task,” Sheldon said.
This year’s Winds of Change campaign theme, It’s Your Turn, is a call to individual and community action. “Each of us can, and should, take action to make children a priority in our communities. Whether you are a neighbor, teacher, police officer, librarian, mentor, coach or family member, everyone plays a role in providing healthy developmental opportunities for children,” Ferris said.
As part of the Winds of Change campaign, local coordinators are distributing parenting guides featuring the Berenstain Bears, and a series of public service announcements are being broadcast on radio and television. The printed materials and broadcast announcements encourage Floridians to call the Parent Helpline at 1-800-FLA-LOVE for information on raising the leaders of tomorrow. The Helpline is available 24/7, and calls are free and confidential. All campaign materials are available for free download at www.ounce.org.
Prevent Child Abuse Florida:
The Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida is one of 44 state chapters of Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA America). The Prevention Services unit, also referred to as Prevent Child Abuse Florida (PCA Florida), advocates for policies and initiatives to strengthen Florida’s communities for families so children can grow and develop through healthy, safe and nurturing experiences.