Florida PTA Healthy Children, Healthy Future State Summit, February 2015
This weekend I had the honor and pleasure of representing KidSafe Foundation at the FLPTA Healthy Children, Healthy Future State Summit in Orlando, Florida. I met many PTA presidents and members of the Department of Education and Department of Health, all of whom are dedicated to making out kids’ lives healthier and more successful. I was asked to share my story of educator abuse and cautionary advice, and I was very grateful for this opportunity. I have often been met with a fair amount of resistance in the past from school systems when discussing this issue. I am so impressed that the Florida PTA has embraced being open to discussing educator abuse so that we can all make these schools of ours safer environments for children to learn and grow.
I also had the new experience of moderating a panel discussion of working with vulnerable populations. The topics of sexual abuse, foster care, and sex trafficking were all addressed. The panelists were leaders in their fields, and I learned a great deal. Safety and prevention education seem to be absolutely key in addressing and diminishing these troubling, harsh realities.
I thought I would share one piece of information that somehow stopped me in my tracks. Kathy Williams, a foster parent recruiter, was asked what we could all do to make a difference in the lives of foster children. Her response? There is a huge need for suitcase donations. The kids have to sometimes move multiple times from foster home to foster home. Quite often, they shove all their belongings in a black trash bag. Kathy stated that a nice, normal suitcase can soften the process a bit. This broke my heart and made the foster care world so much more real for me. So, if any of you can donate a suitcase at some point, reach out to your local foster care system. Thank you!