Edie started our program this year as a very quiet Kindergartener who never spoke up and spent most of her time in the mentoring program looking at the floor. Her teacher said she was below her reading level in class and was also very withdrawn. By the beginning of the second semester Edie always had a big smile on her face during mentoring! Her reading level improved, she was recognized as the most improved student in her class, and her teacher spoke frequently of the “turn-around she had seen because of Edie’s involvement in the mentoring program. Edie was runner up for her classroom’s Student of the Year with most improved math and reading scores. Her reading level at the end of the school was two levels above average! Edie’s mom speaks with the mentoring coordinator on the phone regularly and attends more school functions now.
An Energy Express child was heard to remark how wonderful it had been to attend the program and showcase their skills at the open house. The child remarked “Why can’t school be like Energy Express and my parents be told to spend time and play with me!” We always have so many excited mothers and dads at the baby shower and the parenting fair. Sharing community resources with families and the local agencies coming together to give out information is always encouraging; the kids love the family games and the idea of having a family mealtime and game night.
This year, we had a local radio station donate in-kind air time to promote April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This is the first time this in-kind donation was offered to us. It was refreshing to hear the messages broadcast throughout the month. This was a way of reaching even more community members to educate them on the need for more involvement to curb child abuse and neglect in our area.
Often times, parents tell us that they are at a loss about how to help their child with homework. The new way of doing math or Saxon Phonics is like a foreign language when children come home from school equipped for the evening with home work. Children become frustrated because they do not know how to complete homework assignments and parents lose patience because they do not know how to do it either and they cannot help their children. Sometimes, this becomes the formula to meltdowns in children and anger in the adults which then turns towards each other. Children come back to school without their homework being completed or it is completed with incorrect answers setting the child up for school failure. Of course, research tells us what happens next. According to recent news many fourth graders are not reading on level and the story goes on from there all the way to truancy, increased high school dropout rates, etc.
According to what parents are telling us and the results from the one time event PIP WV Family Surveys, PIP is making a difference in our community. Parents are eager to come to this event. You can hear the chatter in the community right before the event occurs. Parents are trying to make arrangements with their employers to get the day off from work so they can come to school with their child. Parents are saying that they are learning about ways to help their child with their homework. They are also learning how to read the WesTest Scores that their children bring home, they are learning ideas to use at home to engage and enhance what their children are learning at school. Parents are becoming more active in their child’s education and gaining information about ways they can save money for their child’s future in education. Additionally, some parents are learning ideas about how they can further their own education or how to find community resources in time of need.
As the new director at Marshall County Starting Points Center, I walked into this job not knowing what Partners in Prevention was all about. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was going to love my job. The spirit of the partners in Prevention team gave me chills. It is a great feeling to be part of a group of people working together to make a community a better place for our children. As we worked to place pinwheels around the county I had several people contact me to let me know that what we do touched them in so many ways and that we are making a difference. Working together to help save a child from child abuse and neglect is a spirit in and of itself, and that spirit is contagious in Marshall County.
I believe that the greatest community spirit demonstrated this year was during the month of April and the overwhelming outreach of the community wanting to become involved in all of our activities. From planting pinwheel gardens to helping plan our Awareness Walk and Celebration of Life Ceremony, I just couldn’t believe the number of people stopping by the office or calling to ask what they could do to help. The School System even became far more involved and allowed me to visit the classrooms and talk with the Elementary School students; I presented at health classes at the middle and high school levels; and was asked to make a presentation to a school-wide event at Belmont Elementary School. It was during this assembly that I had a mother stand up and praise our PIP TEAM’s efforts in the prevention of domestic violence and child abuse. I had been able to make a referral for her to the Family Crisis Intervention Center and she was helped tremendously! She was empowered to leave an abusive environment and is now working to provide for her two children in a job that has done wonders to increase her self-confidence. It is also helpful to do all the prevention activities and be able to include the findings in our Service Array reports for DHHR.
The success of our program can definitely be attributed to the strong PIP Team in Pocahontas County. Together we have built programming that is relevant, continuously growing and constantly evolving to meet the needs of the community. Parents and families are engaged in the programs and are participating at an ever-growing level. We have also expanded to meet the needs of underserved people in the community with the Greenbrier Birthing Center. The work that is being done through the PIP grant has had an impact on may people’s lives. When the women of the GBC were asked what programming they would like to have, they responded with the fact that us being there was enough and the programming was just an extra bonus. The time spent at the GBC is so important to the moms and the children. Also, there has been a significant impact on the children in the community through the PIP grant. Part of our December Family Fun Night was the Boy Scouts delivering handmade crafts to individuals in the nursing home. The residents were so appreciative and when we were leaving one of the Boy Scouts turned to me and said that he “felt really good inside”. The impact of the programming from the PIP grant is very evident in this community..
Partners in Prevention provides the opportunity to bring a diverse group of people together every year to discuss children’s issues in an open and caring venue. People look forward to this event as we continue to stress how we can be effective community members and keep our kids safe.
In April a local youth group hosted a demonstration on the prevention of Shaken Baby Syndrome which was presented by one of the Taylor County Partners in Prevention Team members. At the close of the evening the TCPIP Team gratefully accepted from the Youth Group 20 pre-filled Kid Packs that will be shared with local law enforcement agencies for disbursement as needed. These and other projects and events are part of the on-going effort to prevent child abuse in our community.
Our curriculum facilitators are always expressing their surprise at the impact of our school-based programming. The connections with the children remain intact long after the facilitators have left the classrooms. Children see them as a safe person and a role model to share stories and experiences. Our facilitators say that there is hardly ever a community event, sport event or a trip to the grocery store that does not include one of their "students" giving them a hug or a smile.
Upshur County Partners in Prevention has diversified the outreach within the community adding a community baby shower, Darkness to Light trainings, distribution of education materials and pinwheels at various health fairs and events including the Children’s Festival, National Night Out, Rachel’s Challenge Field Day, and many more. However, our foundation for years has been rooted in Love and Logic education for parents and children. For years now Partners in Prevention have been providing for the Love and Logic training for educators in our school system and particularly at Union Elementary School. The core values of Love and Logic have been incorporated in the curriculum at Union Elementary School which has made a difference in the lives of the children, parents, faculty, staff and administration involved with this school. The year, Union Elementary School was named a National School of character. Union Elementary School is the first school in West Virginia to ever be nominated for this award let alone to be selected as a winner of this very prestigious award. Upshur County Partners in Prevention is honored to partner with Union Elementary School. We fully believe that the process over the last 10 years of educating our teachers in Love and Logic and ingraining this methodology into the lives of the children, the school, and all who pass through the doors of the school has been instrumental in accomplishments attained at Union Elementary School. And to add to this, the Upshur County Schools has approved and will in the fall of 2012 open an elementary alternative school at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School for behavioral disorders. Love and Logic will be a part of the curriculum at this alternative school as a result of the Upshur County PIP Team.
One of the pregnant women that attended our Baby Safety Shower was extremely grateful for everything she received at the shower. But most of all, she enjoyed the training concerning her unborn child’s development in their first year of life. Her mother attended the shower with her and had made a comment that she wished this information had been available to her when her children were young. She has volunteered to help in our next year’s events.
Our team sees that the positive approach to child abuse and neglect is being far better received by parents than the old school threat of “we will take your kid away.” Parents tell us that when they see us as parents telling stories who have the same problems that they have with their kids, it makes them feel comfortable and willing to share. While doing the stress during holidays/shaken baby workshops, the presenter said that she had been to the point of frustration where she could see where a parent could get out of control, but the key was to acknowledge the level of frustration and walk away. Several parents said that hearing that statement come from the presenter made them feel like they were on the same level. Instead of being accusatory or looked down upon, the presenter put it in a context that made them feel better about their feelings of frustration. We also had a mom who said she thought that her role was to stop the baby from crying and never thought about walking away as an option.