History of MVACAUNITED
Military Veterans Against Child Abuse (MVACAUNITED) was founded by two USAF Veterans, Sharon M. and James Blacknall. Sharon previously worked with various missing child prevention and child safety companies and as a child safety advocate for many years in Las Vegas, Nevada. While teaching children about safety and different life skills, she noticed there were programs for children ages 6 and older, but nothing age-appropriate for the 3 to 5-year-old kids that often tagged along with their older siblings. After testing different approaches to teaching preschool and elementary-aged children about safety and what would keep their attention, Sharon developed an innovative core program that taught young children about basic safety and hygiene, while having fun learning their numbers and alphabet.
In 2011, Sharon and James moved back to San Antonio, Texas to care for her ailing mother. During the months before her mother's passing, they would sit for hours and talk about teaching children and child safety. Sharon's mother, Mary A. Martin, was a pediatric nurse and long-time substitute teacher in the local elementary schools. Mary encouraged Sharon to write a book and trademark her program as friends and family successfully utilized her techniques with their own children and grandchildren.
Sharon kept her promise to her mother and in 2012, published The ABC's and 123's of Child Safety. The book is dedicated to her mother, Mary, and the yellow butterfly used symbolically throughout the book was her favorite. Mary said butterflies signify re-birth and she compared it to a scared or abused child coming out of a caterpillar cocoon and blossoming into a beautiful carefree child that is free from any abuse.
In 2013, Military Veterans Against Child Abuse was founded to introduce the safety program and to empower Pre-K/Elementary-aged children with the tools they need to help keep themselves safe. One of the ultimate goals of MVACAUNITED is to see the program offered in every preschool and elementary school nationwide. For now, we are concentrating on bringing down the number of child abuse cases in Texas, and the first step is to educate preschool and elementary-aged children. Preschool-aged children are often targeted and make easy victims because no one has discussed stranger awareness, inappropriate touching, pool, and fire safety, not keeping secrets, etc. with them in any form or fashion. Parents think it will be too scary, don't know how to bring the subject up, or are under the false sense of security that it could never happen to their child.
We are determined to take away the perceived easy prey label on young children by educating them in a fun, non-scary way with the knowledge they need to make smart, safe choices. Teaching preschool and elementary-aged children about safety do not and should not be scary. Our goal is to make staying safe as natural as learning their ABC's or 123's!
So the next time you see a yellow butterfly, smile and know that we are teaching a young child how to grow up Safe and Unafraid, and they are paying it forward by teaching those they come in contact with about safety. We've seen it happen time and again. The children get so excited about what they've learned...they can't wait to teach someone else how to stay safe! Pretty soon, we will have a whole army of young 'butterflies' teaching the next generation how they too can be Safe and Unafraid!
Dedicated to the memory of:
Mary A. Martin
A loving Mother and Grandmother who
believed ALL children deserve to
grow up Safe and Unafraid.
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