HARLINGEN – More than 240 people gathered for Family Fun Day hosted by BCFS Health and Human Services-Harlingen and BCFS Health and Human Services-McAllen, Saturday, April 23. The free event at the Boys and Girls Club of Harlingen featured a bounce house, face painting, a cupcake walk, photo booth, ring toss and free children’s books, and Mickey Mouse and Dr. Seuss’s The Cat walked around, interacting with the kids.
BCFS-Harlingen and BCFS-McAllen hosted the event to mark April as National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month, and encourage families to take a pledge against child abuse. Bikers Against Child Abuse, a national group of motorcycle enthusiasts whose mission is to empower children, educate adults and unite all against the scourge of child abuse, also addressed the crowd.
Keynote speaker and BACA member, Dr. Cheryl Sawyer discussed the warning signs of abuse and neglect, and offered tips to children through a demonstration on what to do if confronted by a predator.
Guest speaker Melissa Espinoza of the Rio Grande Valley Families and Friends of Murdered Children, Inc. made an emotional plea to event participants to advocate for those who have lost a loved one, and to be especially vigilant regarding the safety of children.
BCFS-Harlingen and BCFS-McAllen also encouraged families to enroll in parenting education programs and support groups that teach moms and dads how to create loving, stable home environments.
“We had a great time connecting with families from across the community,” said BCFS Director of Community Services Jeff Wolpers. “We talked to families about our services and looked for opportunities to help them, while the kiddos had a lot of fun!”
BCFS-Harlingen operates several parenting education programs that provide comprehensive support, including Project HOPES and Fatherhood EFFECT. BCFS-McAllen also operates parenting education through the Texas Families: Together and Safe program, as well as programs for juvenile justice youth, youth from foster care, and teens struggling to transition to adulthood.
Family Fun Day was funded in part by the Prevention and Early Intervention Division of the Department of Family and Protective Services.
For more information about BCFS Health and Human Services, visit DiscoverBCFS.net.
BCFS is a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations with locations and programs throughout the United States as well as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. The organization is a national leader in medical sheltering and emergency management and response, providing critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments. BCFS also provides residential services and emergency shelters for children who are abused or neglected; assisted living services and vocational training for adults with intellectual disabilities; mental health services for children and families, foster care and adoption services; medical services; early education; transitional living services for youth who are at-risk and those in the juvenile justice system; residential camping and retreats for children and families; and international humanitarian aid for children living in impoverished conditions in developing countries.