Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness

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October is such a fun, fall month.  We get excited for pumpkins, hayrides, and costumes, but for many of us, October also comes with a variety of emotions.  October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  Ronald Reagan made the designation in 1988.  One in four women will be impacted by miscarriage or the loss of a child.  One in four!  All of us know someone touched by this pain, and it can be difficult to know what to say, what to do, how to grieve, or how to strive for hope.  When it comes to this heartbreaking loss, our words will always fall short.  The most important comfort we have to offer is our presence and our remembrance.  This October, you may know someone who stares at the aisle of Halloween costumes wondering which one their child would have picked.  You may know a family who lights a candle each day in honor of their child – gone, but never, ever forgotten.  October 15 is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day.  I challenge you to find ways to support, remember, and honor these families and these children in your life who were taken too soon.  I light a candle each day in October to remember the children I love but have never truly known.  This became part of our family’s reality three years ago when I lost twin nieces to Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome.  There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of them.  I wonder what their hair would have looked like, what their favorite songs would be, what they would have wanted to be when they grew up, how their laughs would have sounded, and how it would feel to hug them.  Today I have reached a place where I can be thankful for the impact they have made on my life.  I celebrate their memory every day, but October is special.  All children are a gift, including the ones we never met, the ones gone too soon, and the ones we only see in our dreams.  This October may we all find ways to celebrate, remember, and offer hope.

 

To celebrate or honor a loved child this October, consider participating in the Child Advocacy Center’s Tribute Murals.

 

Guest Blogger

April V. Coleman

Pastor of Children and Families

Lafayette Baptist Church

Fayetteville, NC 

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Grandparents are the Key Foundation!

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Do you remember when you were younger and you longed for the times you got to visit your grandparents? Do you remember the great storytellers they were? You always left wanting more. The joy you felt and the love that was shared made you feel like you were some famous rock star. Grandparents hold a very special place in the hearts of many. The role they play is very important. The support they provide to parents shows the foundation that families are built on.

Studies indicate when grandparents are involved in their grandchildren’s daily lives, the children are more social and more involved in school. I think their relationships with grandparents help them to interact with adults. They are also more likely to care and show compassion for people outside their immediate circle of friends and family. Continue reading “Grandparents are the Key Foundation!”

Back to School Tips …for Students

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August is the month when many students across the United States return to school. This year, August brings an event across the mainland United States that last occurred on February 26, 1979. A total solar eclipse will travel across the United States on August 21, one week before students on a traditional calendar in Cumberland County return to school. In North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park may offer the best view in the state of the eclipse. Students, after the excitement dies down, return to your normally scheduled activity of learning something new every day.

Students. Take ownership of your learning. Your teachers are there to guide you and facilitate your learning. Your parents provide support to ensure that you have what you need to achieve your goals. However, it is up to you to take full advantage of the support, tools and resources available to you. In addition to the activities listed earlier, I recommend students:

  • Ask for help early in the school year.
  • Participate in class discussions.
  • Do your homework and ask questions when you do not understand something.
  • Use a planner to keep track of assignments and due dates.
  • Break long-term assignments into manageable chunks to help you meet the due date.
  • Come to school prepared to learn with all your textbooks, notebooks and writing instruments.
  • Use your school’s online student portal to get information and stay on track.
  • Make new friends and reconnect with old ones.

High school students, you are in the last years of your secondary education. Whether you decide to transition to a four-year college, two-year college, the military, certificate program or direct employment, use your upcoming year in school to strengthen your academic record, engage in meaningful activities, improve your communication skills and reflect on your values and what is important to you. Additionally, in preparation for your next steps, I suggest that you:

  • Challenge yourself by taking AP and/or Honors classes.
  • Prepare for standardized college admission tests by practicing.
  • Commit yourself to extracurricular activities for which you have an interest, not to pad your résumé.
  • Strengthen your relationships with your teachers and school counselor.
  • Seek opportunities for leadership like running for student office, organizing a school event, or leading an academic club.
  • Take time to pause and express gratitude for the support given to you on your journey.

Returning to school is an opportunity for a new beginning so let this year be a time of learning for you. Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund states, “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.”

 

Belinda J. Wilkerson is the owner of Steps To The Future, LLC, a college and career counseling service. Contact her at bwilkerson@steps2thefuture.com or follow her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/steps2thefuture/.

 

Back to School Tips…

Back-To-School Tips

Belinda J. Wilkerson, Ed.D.

Did you know in 2017 that August is the month to celebrate Friendship Day (6), National Left Hander’s Day (13), Happiness Happens Day (8) and Women’s Equality Day (26)? The eighth month of the year, bearing the name of the first Roman emperor, Augustus Caesar, is the birthday month for author John Greene (The Fault in Our Stars), Jennifer Lawrence, Katniss in The Hunger Games, and two of my best friends, Karen and Valarie. As we saunter headlong into August, still enjoying time at the beach, cookouts and all that the outdoors has to offer, August means a return to school for many students throughout the country. With that in mind, I want to share some back-to-school tips for parents and students.

Parents. Stay up-to-date on the expectations of your child’s teachers by reviewing the information published on the school’s website. In Cumberland County, NC, parents have access to the Home Base Parent Portal to monitor grades and assignments to support their child’s educational progress. Find ways to be involved in school activities such as the PTA, chaperoning school events, attending Open House, concerts, plays and sporting events. Do what you can to keep the lines of communication strong between home and school. Open House and scheduled teacher conferences are excellent ways to gather information about each teacher’s expectations and policies. Having this information allows you to ensure that your child has the tools and resources to achieve success throughout the school year.

Encourage your student to work hard academically and do one or more of the following depending on his or her strengths and interests:

Continue reading “Back to School Tips…”

19 Days of Prevention

Have you stopped trying to do it all on your own? The truth is, no one can change the world alone. It takes a village to raise a child and a community to prevent child abuse and neglect before it ever starts. Let me give you a tour through a community initiative in raising awareness in child abuse. The local non-profit, Child Advocacy Center, in Fayetteville, NC has partnered with Women’s World Summit Foundation, an international agency that encourages groups and/or agencies to participate in promoting the prevention of abuse and violence against children and youth during November 1st – 19th each year. This is our fifth year participating.

The 19 Days of Prevention will consist of three main events. The first is one of our most exciting opportunities. We do a Story Time in our community for preschoolers. We go to local child care centers and Headstart Centers and read two books entitled. No Means No! by Jayneen Sanders and Some Parts Are Not for Sharing by Julie K. Federico. The book entitled Some Parts Are Not for Sharing, Julie, a former Guidance Counselor, shares insight through a discussion among a pair of fish. The fish will lead the listener to learn about their bodies as well as learn about safe boundaries.  The second book is titled No Means No!  by Jayneen Sanders. This book helps kids distinguish between good and bad secrets. Even very young children have concerns and anxieties. This book is written and illustrated especially for them. In 2015, we reached 1500+ children in our community. These story times our lead by our volunteers through the CAC as well as staff.

Our new feature this year for 19 Days of Prevention is the addition of hosting a Community Café—Children are living messengers we send to a time we will not see. At the Café, we will have a conversation on how to better protect our children in our community from being a victim of child abuse. There will be table host along with community members who will dialogue with questions such as

“What are some words of phrases that you wish children heard?”

“What are some, if any, challenges that make it difficult for you to help keep children safe in our community?”

An invitation was sent out to over 300 local child care providers, to include home child care providers. Each child care facility is encouraged to bring a parent with them.

The final event in our 19 Days of Prevention is our Annual Community Prevention Breakfast. Each year we host a breakfast where our volunteers can invite people from our community to attend. There they hear about what the CAC mission is, how we accomplish this and how they can be involved. This year our guest speaker is Sharon Hirsch, the Executive Director for Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina. The theme for the breakfast is It Takes a Village to Prevent Child Abuse.

During the Breakfast, we recognize our Partners in Prevention. These are agencies who have completed the Darkness to Light …Stewards of Children child sexual abuse training with 90% of their staff/volunteers. We are honored to have 73 agencies in our community who have chosen to set aside time for their staff and volunteers to receive the training. As a result of their taking the training, we have more persons able to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to the signs of child abuse in our community.

It does take A Community to Prevent Child Abuse! Our community has begun to take steps to prevent abuse. We have only just begun. Where will our steps lead us next?

Hope to see you at the Café…