Over the weekend of February 17th & 18th, a group of ten college students from Central Michigan University's Alternative Breaks Program volunteered at the Child Advocacy Center of Lapeer County (CAC Lapeer) marking the second year in which we have partnered with the University; the second year in which students traveled two hours to provide CAC Lapeer with helpful hands and compassionate hearts.
Throughout the weekend, students spent a combined total of 100 hours volunteering at the Center. Their volunteering consisted of an orientation to the CAC, education on the mission of the CAC, and the role it plays in reducing trauma to child victims of sexual and/or physical abuse.
They also created sensory toys that will be provided to children during therapy sessions as well as paper pin wheels that will be utilized during April's Child Abuse Awareness month.
The students also researched tools to keeping children safe online, assembled furniture, and created Care Bags for the children and much more!
Last year, students painted the CAC's Medical SANE/SART room, researched various ways to monitor children online, as well as apps and websites that could pose danger to children and more. As a non-profit, CAC Lapeer relies heavily on community involvement, engagement, and volunteerism which is why we are extremely grateful that these students took the time out of their busy schedules to provide service to our Community. CAC Lapeer would also like to thank Lapeer Assembly of God for allowing the students to sleep, eat, and prepare for their service-filled weekend with us here at CAC Lapeer!
While some may find it hard to believe that college students would spend their weekends volunteering, this is a common theme for students at Central Michigan University. The student-led Alternative Breaks program at CMU provides students with the opportunity to educate themselves on social issues, give back to communities, and help students discover their passions. In 2015, the Alternative Breaks Program at CMU was ranked #3 in the nation. It is a tremendously influential program that allows students to delve into communities in need while gaining hands-on experience working with current social issues. The program creates opportunities that allow college students to not only educate themselves, but encourages them to create social change within their own communities through service, education, and advocacy. With that in mind, CAC Lapeer was honored to host these students and bring awareness to the issue of child abuse and neglect.
Over the past year, the issue of child abuse and/or neglect has received large amounts of media coverage. With the #MeToo initiative and over 160 survivors speaking out on the Nassar case, the CAC concentrated our efforts and focus on training and education for these CMU students. As future professionals, CAC Lapeer wanted to address the importance of signs and symptoms of child abuse, mandated reporting guidelines and policies, and more! CMU students became trained on Darkness to Light's Stewards of Children training which discusses the 5 steps to protecting our children. Through this training our goal was to educate students and provide them with accurate information they can utilize in their own communities, in their professional careers, and in their personal lives to create a safer place for our children.
CAC Lapeer is always looking for ways to spread awareness, education, and knowledge to not only the Lapeer Community, but to ALL communities because child abuse and neglect is an issue that impacts EVERY community. We are excited that these college students were able to spend a weekend learning about all that we do here at CAC Lapeer and are very thankful for all of their help!
Lastly, as we reflect on the importance of community we would like to reflect on the link between Lapeer County and CMU. Just as Lapeer County embodies the idea of “neighbors helping neighbors; friends helping friends," CMU is also a community that thrives from this ideal. Its Alternative Breaks program is clearly an extension of that as it has provided the Lapeer Community with students who have traveled and volunteered their time and efforts to serve our Community. And for that CAC Lapeer will be forever grateful for their time, efforts, and partnership.
CAC Lapeer would like to send our condolences to those impacted by the unfortunate events that happened on CMU's campus last week.
If you are interested in volunteering with the Child Advocacy Center of Lapeer County, please contact us at (810) 664-9990 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org !