Every month, there are many different causes to bring awareness to, making people conscious about a problem or issue. April is no different as there are many worthy causes that are brought to attention or celebrated this month.

One such celebration is the Week of the Young Child®, an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the world’s largest early childhood education association.

The Week of the Young Child® recognizes opportunities for young children as our responsibilities and ensuring that we recommit annually to bring experiences into the lives of each and every child, no matter what type of early environment, that will promote their early learning. We have children in our community that are in child care at centers, homes, and in community outlets that are being taught and guided in their developmental milestones.

Throughout the month of April and especially the week designated by NAEYC as the Week of the Young Child®, we want to promote and encourage these providers and bring public attention of the needs of all families and young children in our community. Without these providers and programs to meet the needs of young children and families, our community would look a lot different. We need to plan how to better meet the needs of young children and families, in our capacity as local, state, and federal citizens, and be an encouragement to providers.

Locally the Week of the Young Child® Collaboration will be celebrating with an in-person Early Childhood Family Fun Fair that will have many community partners that are making a difference in the lives of young children and families. This family friendly celebration will have child-centered activities, family resources, and entertainment while promoting early childhood development. Many may have attended the celebration in the past or participated virtually over the last few years so it’s exciting to be bringing it back for a more personal experience.

This year’s Early Childhood Family Fun Fair will be held on April 15, at UW Health Sports Factory, 305 South Madison Street, in Rockford. The event will run from 9:00am – 12:30pm. Lots of exciting performances as well as giveaways and resources so put it on your calendar to come have fun and encourage the providers and families in our community.

April is also labeled as National Child Abuse Prevention Month to help further child advocacy efforts in protecting young children. Communities are urged to come together to raise awareness about child and family wellbeing and join forces to put into practice successful family-support and child abuse and neglect prevention programs to stop child abuse.  Locally, you may see pinwheels start popping up in the community to help increase the awareness to prevent child abuse this month and the color blue.

Bonnie Finney, a Virginia grandmother whose grandchildren suffered abuse, says this about why she chose the color blue for child abuse prevention:

“Why the color blue? I never intended to forget the battered, bruised bodies of my grandchildren. Bruises are black, then eventually blue. Therefore, blue serves as a constant reminder to me to fight for our children.”

One of Bonnie’s grandchildren was severely abused, which ultimately led to their death at the age of thee years old. To prevent tragic stories like Bonnie’s it’s important to make others aware of the issue and ways that we can all help to prevent further tragic outcomes for young children in our communities.

Pinwheels for Prevention® Campaign was introduced in 2008 by Prevent Child Abuse America. In a statement on their website, they explain why they chose to use a pinwheel for their campaign:

“What our research showed, and what our experiences since then have reinforced, is that people respond positively to pinwheels, which represent childlike whimsy and lightheartedness and our vision for a world where all children grow up happy, healthy, and prepared to succeed in supportive families and communities.”

What will be your efforts to bring this awareness and protect our young children? Take part and place pinwheels in your windows, on your vehicles, or in your yards. Wear blue or put a blue ribbon on your lapel or shirt to draw attention. Most importantly, if you suspect something is happening to a young child in your community, act if you see signs of abuse.

“You may not hear their scream… you may not see their bruises… so check for the pain and screams in their eyes.” – Bonnie Finney

– Stephanie Siemens, Quality Specialist