April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and I encourage everyone in West Michigan to join me this month and stand up for the future of children in our state.

Each of us has the ability to help children and families in our neighborhoods. Did you know that when you mentor a child or parent, advocate for policies that support the next generation, or donate time or money to local child-serving organizations, you are actually helping to prevent child abuse and neglect? Don’t worry if you didn’t - according to research from Prevent Child Abuse America, most other Americans didn’t know either!

But these actions do make a difference. By donating time and money to prevention organizations, taking the time to volunteer for before- or after-school programs, or offering to help families in your own neighborhood, you can have a meaningful impact on the lives of children throughout the community. Actions like these help bring communities together, reduce isolation and help children and families succeed.

Research shows that most Americans are already involved in helping to prevent child abuse and neglect through one of those actions. If you’re not already, April is a great time to start!

As we observe Child Abuse Prevention Month this April, I hope you’ll take one of three simple steps to make a difference: mentor a child or parent, advocate for family-friendly policies, or donate to a child-serving organization.

If we all pledge to do each of these activities at least once during the month of April, we can make a real difference. More importantly, if we all continue to take steps like these beyond April and into the future, we can help grow the next generation of American leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators.

Will you join me?

Holly Alway

Injury Prevention Coordinator

Mercy Health