Making An Impact: Preventive Education and Services

Prevention saves money, community resources, and most importantly, lives.
That's why United Way of Whatcom County is proud to partner with crucial programs that provide preventative care and education to stop issues from happening. Your generous donations help ensure that the entire community has access to good health, a basic building block for a good quality of life.
Some adverse health events can be planned for, have their impact reduced, and even be stopped from occurring while others are unpreventable and unexpected. Programs at agencies such as the Whatcom Center for Early Learning and Brigid Collins are examples of just some of the programs supported by United Way's Community Impact Fund that diligently provide services to intervene and prevent poor health.
Sometimes difficult health events are unpreventable regardless of how much we prepare. Whatcom Center for Early Learning's (WCEL) Birth to Three Special Needs Program, another program sponsored by donations to our Community Impact Fund, understands that for a child who is developing differently, intervention is the best prevention.
WCEL's program provides comprehensive, family-centered early intervention services to children with special needs and to their families. The Birth to Three Special Needs Program specifically provides individual therapy visits in home or in other community settings, primary coaching for parents, and family resources.
These cutting-edge intervention techniques are preventing future delays and difficulties for the child and their family. In 2015, 45% of kids leaving the program at WCEL, at age three, no longer needed any special education and were considered to be "functioning normally." 
Regardless of the child's need for further special education, Executive Director Sandra Berner says, "Being involved in our services increases the quality of life of the children and for their families. Children have taken their first steps here, spoken their first words, and looked into their parent's eyes for the first time."
Prevention and care are both focuses of another United Way funded program at Brigid Collins. Brigid Collins is committed to breaking the cycle of child abuse in Whatcom County by providing services to prevent the onset of abuse and promote justice and healing when abuse occurs.
"The cost of child abuse and neglect to our community is much higher than many realize," says Byron Manering, Executive Director of Brigid Collins.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) negatively affect a child's ability to learn and function in a class room environment. Just three ACEs significantly impact a child's brain development. One-third of students in every class have had at least three ACEs. As a result, teachers spend 50% of their class time on behavior management. This lowers the quality of education for the entire class and can result in a community whose members are not prepared for high school and adulthood.
One of the many ways Brigid Collins is promoting prevention is through their Darkness to Light training class. Every trainee who completes this program prevents an average of 10 instances of abuse.
"We have trained 1,200 community members so far and our goal is to train 6,000," Manering says. "We want to shift the community's mindset to one that not only refuses to tolerate child abuse but also sees it as preventable."
We all have a stake in creating a healthy, prosperous community. By supporting preventative education and services, we curb problems before they start and provide care for those affected. This creates a higher quality of life for all and alleviates strain on tax dollars.  Your contribution to our Community Impact Fund makes these outcomes and many more, possible for our entire community.  
That's what it means to LIVE UNITED.

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