State commitment to child abuse prevention highlighted at rally; U.S. Sen. Stabenow, MDHHS Director Gordon among speakers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 25, 2019

CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112                                                                            

LANSING, Mich. –  Hundreds of blue and silver pinwheels adorned a garden near the State Capitol today as a symbol of Michigan’s commitment to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Attendees of the annual 11th annual Children’s Trust Fund Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Day Rally held today at the State Capitol planted the pinwheels following the event. The pinwheel is the national symbol for child abuse and neglect prevention.

With the theme “The Power of One,” the rally brought together the prevention community to draw attention to the 37,738 children who were confirmed to have been abused or neglected in Michigan in 2018. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

The Children’s Trust Fund, housed within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), was established by the Michigan Legislature in 1982.  It serves as a voice for Michigan's children and families and promotes their health, safety and welfare by funding effective local programs and services that prevent child abuse and neglect.

“It’s exciting to be a part of today’s rally and celebrate the important work being done by the Children’s Trust Fund,” said U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who co-authored the 1982 legislation creating the Children’s Trust Fund while she was in the State Legislature. “Although our children and families continue to face many challenges, the commitment of people working on the front lines to prevent child abuse and neglect is as strong as ever.”   

MDHHS Director Robert Gordon said he and Gov. Whitmer share that commitment. “Today’s event and Child Abuse Prevention Month provide opportunities for each of us to be a positive force on behalf of the children and families in our communities,” Gordon said. “No one person can do everything, but everyone can do something. And together, we can make significant strides to protect children and families.”

Suzanne Greenberg, executive director of the Children’s Trust Fund, served as emcee at the rally. “The prevention of child abuse and neglect requires each one of us to want for every child what we want for our sons and daughters,” Greenberg said. “We can change the lives of our children if we are brave enough to speak up and courageous enough to step up for the best interests of all children.”

Children’s Trust Fund board chair Randy Richardville reasserted the importance of Child Abuse Prevention Day. “If you want to understand child abuse and neglect, just look into the eyes of a child,” he said. “It’s incumbent upon us all to protect the joy they are given at birth.”

Other event speakers included state representatives Joe Tate and Mary Whiteford, Muskegon Area Intermediate School District Superintendent John Severson, and Estrella Torrez, associate professor at Michigan State University’s Residential College of Arts and Humanities.

Event entertainment was provided by pastor and gospel singer Charles Laster of Detroit; the Lansing Community College choir; Lansing’s Dwight Rich School for the Arts; and Ojibwa Elder Don Lyons and jingle dress dancers Raeanne Madison and Maddi Clover.

Event sponsors included Grand Traverse Pie Company, the Lansing Area Exchange Club, the MDHHS Maternal and Infant Health division, Central United Methodist Church of Lansing, Lansing Community College, Cottage Inn Pizza, Fresh Thyme Supermarkets, Absopure Water, Stan Setas Produce and the United Dairy Industry of Michigan.

A citizens review panel discussion was scheduled for after the rally to gain insight into the opioid crisis and the role of prevention efforts to address the epidemic and support the recovery process. 

On May 15 at 5 p.m. the Children’s Trust Fund will hold its annual Pam Posthumus Signature Auction Event at the Breslin Center on Michigan State University’s campus in East Lansing to raise money to support child abuse prevention programming. For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation to support the Children’s Trust Fund, visit www.michigan.gov/ctf.

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