PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, signed a declaration during Springfest at Ward Field aboard Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH), April 7.
Rear Adm. Frank Ponds signed the declaration to rededicate the Navy's support and awareness of the importance of preventing child abuse and neglect.
"This is personal," Ponds said. "My wife and I, we have kids. We talk about the Sailors being our most important asset and our most important resource, but for our nation it's our children."
Steve Zahl, the regional family programs director for Military and Family Support Center (MFSC), presented Ponds with a certificate of commendation from the Hawaii State Senate. The certificate explained the unique part the Navy plays in Hawaii's community and praised the work the Navy and MFSC do in raising awareness and community involvement.
The Senate commendation stated, "Child abuse is a community-wide problem whose solution depends on the involvement of people throughout the community. Being a unique part of our community, the Navy is in a special place to raise awareness of the negative consequences of child abuse. The Pearl Harbor Fleet and Family Support Center encourages community involvement by helping parents at-risk, being a good friend and neighbor, and stopping child abuse in public places."
Ponds signed two posters in front of Navy parents and children in observance of this year's Child Abuse Prevention Month. Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Military Family and Support Center (MFSC) used Springfest as an opportunity to bring attention to their campaign to prevent child abuse, this year called "Pinwheels for Prevention."
"Every year we rededicate ourselves to helping families and helping prevent child abuse," said Chet Adessa, family advocacy prevention education specialist for the MFSC, while speaking to the crowd.
There have been several Pinwheels for Prevention events throughout JBPHH and the state of Hawaii since the start of April, marked by blue and silver pinwheels planted in front of the MFSC building and the Hawaii State Capitol. The same pinwheels were distributed at the Springfest, with each pinwheel planted representing an individual's dedication to doing what they can to prevent child abuse.
"Today is not just about having fun. It's about taking care of business," Ponds said. "And our business is about taking care of our most valuable asset, and that's our children. So we have to do everything we can to prevent, not react but be proactive, in making sure children are not neglected and they are not abused."
A group of elementary school children held up posters at Springfest that they designed on ways they could prevent child abuse. They assembled in front of the stage while Ponds signed the two declarations.
"I do home day care," said Cassandra Broomfield, whose grandson had his poster displayed. "So I think it's very important that parents be aware of the forms of abuse. Not everything is physical."
After the signing, Adessa informed the families that the posters the admiral signed would be on display temporarily at Pearl Harbor Navy Exchange and throughout the month at the Moanalua MFSC office for those who want to make a pledge against child abuse.
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