Everyday Hero

everyday hero

 

During my early days of motherhood, my husband and I pulled out all the stops to make our newborn son happy.  For months, we juggled swings, bouncy seats, books, toys, bottles, anything and everything to make life easier.  Many days for us were spent just trying to survive.  My husband would look up lullabies on YouTube.  I would sing my favorite songs from the 90’s.  Finally, we discovered the magic of Sesame Street.

Our son was amazed by Elmo, and he loved to hear the Sesame Street songs.  We had found our “sunny day”!  After you listen to these same songs over and over, you begin to have favorites.  I am convinced that no one can sing the alphabet like Usher.  One of the songs that caught my attention was entitled “Everyday Hero”.  This song was performed by Aloe Blacc in season 46.  Sesame Street is dedicated to making children smarter, stronger, and kinder, and this song focuses on teaching our children to be kind.  The concept is that all of us can be an everyday hero simply by being kind.

The chorus says, “You can be an everyday hero, just show kindness and caring each day.”  As an adult, that seemed to be a message I was forgetting.  Sure, I remember to spread good cheer during the holidays, and I have paid-it-forward once in a Starbucks drive-thru.  I realized as I listened to the song that this is exactly what I wanted for my son.  I absolutely want him to be smart, happy, and courageous, maybe eat some green vegetables every now and then.  However, more than anything, I want to raise my son to be kind.  I want him to consider others better than himself.  I want to set an example for him in the way I live my life.

Our world does not always value kindness, and some of you reading this may think it is naïve of me to desire this for my son and for myself.  Nevertheless, I am choosing kindness.  I am holding to generosity and consideration.  That might be a challenge when I fight the 5 o’clock Skibo Road traffic, but if kindness is my ambition for my son, it has to begin with me.

April V. Coleman

Minister of Families and Children

Lafayette Baptist Church

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Childhood Trauma and Brain Development

children

Sometimes it can feel scary and overwhelming to help a child who has experienced trauma or neglect. Often a child’s distressed and dysregulated behavior can come out as aggression, whining, or inattention. In the middle of a meltdown, children often don’t seem to respond to correction, discipline, or boundary setting, leaving caregivers feeling helpless and frustrated. Sound familiar? What we need to do as helper grown-ups is to understand how a child’s brain has been impacted structurally and chemically by trauma and neglect experiences. When we understand that behavior is a symptom of a highly anxious brain, we can access many tools to help get to the root of the problem and seek out solutions.

Our brains are unbelievably complex and amazing! Today, let’s just focus on one important aspect of brain development. My mentors in the field of psychotherapy refer to an anxious brain as a brain with an, “Amygdala alarm”. The amygdala is kind of like emotional air traffic control for the brain… so when kids (and adults!) have intense experiences of fear and helplessness, the amygdala alarm goes off in their brain and the whole system jumps into survival mode. Following trauma and neglect, a kid’s brain has digested unsafe experiences and generalized them to other, less scary and more common stimuli (think of anything that engages your senses, like sounds, smells, visual cues, etc.) So the behaviors that you see from the children in your care are probably survival responses driven by an anxious amygdala.

Now that you know a little bit about how brains develop alarm systems and how a child’s body might respond to that stress alarm, you can start playing detective and discover triggers that lead up to big meltdowns. Enlist other caregivers and the child to help you discover ways that the amygdala alarm gets triggered, and implement new coping strategies to help calm down that stressed brain. Good luck, detectives!

For those of you looking for “extra credit” brain information, here is a cool video!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMyDFYSkZSU

Bethany Matheson, M.Ed., LPC(A), NCC

Thrive Counseling and Consulting, PLLC

Giving Back to Give Forward

volunteer hands

It’s 2018, and a new year has begun.  While January is known for setting the stage for new year’s resolutions and providing us the opportunity to “start over”, it’s a month that also celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day—a federal holiday that remembers a man who ignited the Civil Rights Movement to eliminate racial inequality.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was dedicated to creating positive change in our society through serving others.  He once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”  His accomplishments were definitely extraordinary, and it’s important to know we all have the capability to make a difference.  Volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about, even if for just a few hours, contributes to generating change in the lives of others.  If you’re driven to protect the children in our community, the Child Advocacy Center is the perfect place for you to volunteer.

The Child Advocacy Center (CAC) is committed to serving children who experienced abuse while also promoting prevention and awareness efforts to provide children a life free from child abuse.  It’s a place devoted to creating community change to ensure the safety of our children, and volunteers play a big role in the success of the CAC’s efforts.  As a volunteer at the Child Advocacy Center, you can give back to the children in our community in a variety of ways, whether it’s for a few hours, one day, or on a regular basis.

Volunteers assist with safeguarding sensitive information by shredding old files, provide valuable information to families by assembling the information packets given to them when their child reports abuse, and help spread the word about the center’s services and prevention efforts by preparing mass mailings.  You can also serve on one of the CAC’s committees, such as the Community Coalition Committee, if you’re interested in brainstorming and implementing ways to increase child abuse awareness and prevention efforts.

For volunteers who want to be directly engaged with the community, there are outreach opportunities such as participating in the Speaker’s Bureau to speak to organizations about the CAC’s work or setting up a CAC display table at local events to promote awareness about child abuse.  In April—Child Abuse Prevention Month—you can help distribute the symbolic pinwheel gardens across the community.  You can also be a reader during November’s 19 Days of Prevention when the CAC provides a 20-minute story time in classrooms to educate and empower children through fun books.

Additionally, groups can volunteer by making comfort blankets and comfort bags that are given to children who are seen at the CAC.  Given the range of volunteer opportunities, anyone can give back to the children in this community and help provide them a future free from child abuse.

So, as you establish your new year’s resolutions for 2018, remember the spirit of the upcoming holiday on January 15th, and consider what you can do for others this year.  Consider volunteering at the Child Advocacy Center, a place where giving back to children means giving them hope to move forward because the future will be a safer place.

To learn more about the volunteer opportunities at the Child Advocacy Center visit http://www.childadvocacycenter.com/how-to-help/volunteer/, or contact Faith Boehmer, the volunteer coordinator, at 910-486-9700 or faith@cacfaync.org.

Written by Vanessa Allen, CAC Volunteer

 

 

A New Year

human trafficking

Let this “new year” actually be a “new year!” Could this be a new year that brings us a year without the horrors of human trafficking? If so, we first need to refresh our memories about the definition of human trafficking. According to Wikipedia, “human trafficking” is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labor, sexual slavery, or commercial exploitation for the trafficker or others.”
Human trafficking has been in existence across the world for thousands of years and, unfortunately, still exists today. Those involved cross all backgrounds, faith, socioeconomic status, nationalities, and ages.

Newspaper articles, on any given day, paint the terrible and tragic outcomes human trafficked victims experience. Survivors need medical attention for abuse, possible drug addiction, STDs, and a full range of possible mental issues, including post traumatic stress.

This “new year” would definitely include the survivors of human trafficking and how their lives have flourished as they continue to heal.

During this “new year,” we need to make certain that all efforts continue to bring awareness and, above all, rescue those who are victims and prosecute the traffickers.

Join us at our Child Trafficking Forum on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018 at 6:30 pm, Kiwanis Recreation Center, 352 Devers St, Fayetteville, NC

Panelists will include Adam Farnham, Cumberland County Sherrif’s Office, Dr. Dean Duncan, Project NO REST, and others. More details are on our website at http://www.cacfaync.org.

As We Close out 2017

Dear Friends:
2017 has been a tough year for our community. In March, we lost two precious sisters, two-year-old Serenity and four-day-
old Genesis Freeman, to deaths by stabbing. Their father was charged with their murder. In October, nine-year-old
Zamarie Chance was beaten to death in a hotel room, and his mother is charged with his murder.
With these violent and tragic deaths, it is easy to become discouraged about the fate of vulnerable children in our community.
But there are rays of hope.
At the CAC, our mission is to provide a safe and child-friendly location where children can share their stories of abuse,
receive help and begin the process of healing. Children like:
• Marissa, a six-year-old girl whose stepfather sexually abused her. When her mother found out, she immediately
left the home, taking Marissa and her younger brother with her. At the CAC, Marissa was able to tell what
happened, and her mother received help in finding and furnishing a new apartment where she could keep her
children safe.
• N ine-year-old Bradley whose parents were divorced. During a visit, his father pulled him out of the car and beat
him with a belt on the side of the road. When he returned to his mother’s home, she took him for medical help.
Bradley’s father was arrested, and Bradley and his mother continue to receive counseling at the CAC.
• Kaylee, a 13-year-old girl who was molested by her mother’s cousin and became pregnant. Our Victim Advocate
helped Kaylee find a physician, went to the hospital with her when she started labor and helped her determine
whether adoption was the right choice for her baby. Kaylee continues in counseling at the CAC.
These children have been saved by the combined efforts of caring family members, law enforcement, social services,
supporting agencies and the CAC. Their stories provide us with hope!
In addition to our intervention services, the CAC is increasingly focused on prevention efforts. In fiscal year 2017, we
trained 1,558 adults on child abuse prevention using programs such as Recognizing & Reporting Child Abuse, Stewards of
Children, Internet Safety and others.
As this tough year comes to an end, won’t you join us in making protection of children one of your charitable giving
priorities? You may mail a check or provide your credit card authorization using the enclosed envelope or go online to
CACFayNC.org to make your donation.
With our gratitude and wishes for a new year filled with the light of hope for you and for the children of our community.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

 

do you hear

The holiday season comes with so many wonderful traditions, from time with family and friends to special outings, from decorations to music. One of my favorite holiday songs is “Do You Hear What I Hear?” In a few short minutes, the song captures so many emotions—innocence, hope, help, faith, courage, and love. More than just a Christmas song, though, the words resonate with the work we do every day.

 

Do you see what I see…

 

Said the night wind to the little lamb, do you see what I see? Way up in the sky little lamb? Do you see what I see? A star, a star dancing in the night…

 

Our children are much like that little lamb when they first discover who can help them. They see those people as light much like the stars of the night sky. Often the help may seem so far off but one can’t help but find comfort and hope in their light.

 

Do you hear what I hear…

 

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy, do you hear what I hear? Ringing through the sky shepherd boy? Do you hear what I hear? A song, a song high above the trees with a voice as big as the seas…

 

In those very stars the little lamb begins to hear hope ringing out that gives him courage. Suddenly the lamb feels empowered to tell someone else what he has seen and heard.

 

Do you know what I know…

 

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king, do you know what I know? In your palace wall mighty king, do you know what I know? A child, a child shivers in the cold, let us bring him silver and gold…

 

The shepherd having heard the story of the little lamb then shares the story with those he knows can help. He shares what the lamb has told him and asks, What can we do? What can we give that will help?

 

Do you hear what I hear…

 

Said the king to the people everywhere, listen to what I say. Pray for peace people everywhere, listen to what I say. The child, the child sleeping in the night he will bring us goodness and light, he will bring us goodness and light…

 

Finally, those who have been working with all of their might, cry out to everyone. Their cry is one filled with all of the stories of their work, asking for others to listen, to hope for and believe in peace, to join them in their work because all of our children are what will give our future goodness and light. It is up to us to ensure that they are protected and whole so that they can make our world a better place.

 

This holiday season as you enjoy all of the wonders it has to offer I hope that you will join us in the fight to bring goodness and light to this world. Remember the needs of our children, I hope you take time to hear their stories, to see them, to share your love for them, and to remember that to them you are the star in their night sky.

 

Deana Joy, Executive Director

Children’s Advocacy Centers of NC

‘Tis the Season

holiday memories

With the holiday season upon us, now is a wonderful time to take in all of the holly jolly offerings of our local community.  Many of us braved the mall and other shopping destinations on Black Friday.  Perhaps you and your family experienced a Dickens Holiday in downtown Fayetteville.  There are always several things to do in Cumberland County with your children and family, but December brings a special cheer and celebration to our family memories.

The Crown Complex will welcome the NC State Ballet for The Nutcracker as well as Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream this month.  Our local hockey team, the Fayetteville Marksmen, will also have several games throughout December.  The Cape Fear Regional Theatre is presenting The Best Christmas Pageant Ever through December 17.  For light displays, you can experience “Holiday Lights in the Garden” at the Cape Fear Botanical Gardens, the “Christmas Lights at Denton Ridge”, or “Christmas in the Park” at Arnette Park.  There are many holiday events happening at local churches in our area, and the “Singing Christmas Tree” at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church is a local favorite.  There are also opportunities to have breakfast with Santa at various times and locations throughout our county. Everything you want to know about these events and more is available on the visitfayettevillenc.com calendar.  You can also find events through shared interests on social media.

The beauty of this busy season comes in the memories and traditions we make as families.  Whatever your focus of the season, may you experience joy, laughter, and love with your children!

 

April V. Coleman

Pastor of Families and Children

Lafayette Baptist Church