January 2021 | Volume 2, Issue 4
In this issue:
  • Spirit of Giving Board Spotlight
  • BHN Program Update
  • Human Trafficking Awareness Month
  • Partner Events and Announcements
Spirit of Giving Captures Gifts of Many
By: Paul Mitchell, Board of Directors
As this holiday season comes to a close, I can’t help but be impressed by how our community has come together to ensure families have had food, clothing, shelter, and gifts to give their children by supporting the many nonprofits operating in Leon County. This year was particularly challenging with the ever-present COVID virus, but our town did not disappoint.

On December 1, we formally launched our “Friends of Whole Child Leon” campaign for 2020-2021, where we ask members of our community to commit $6 a month - a single dollar per month for each of the six dimensions of a whole child. This commitment is not only a monetary pledge to help support this organization, but also recognition that you support the indisputable fact that the first five years of our children’s lives matter; that the future health of our entire community and economy starts with healthy children, who are both ready to learn and succeed by age five.

To date, 46 individuals have responded to the call including former Speaker of the Florida House, Allan Bense (access full list here). His generous gift, however, came with extra motivation: a promise to match - dollar for dollar - additional contributions generated during the remainder of December. This simple act truly captured the spirit of giving. It was more than just writing a check. It was a reminder that it takes all of us working together to build a community where all children thrive. It was also a reminder that some giving is not monetary. Throughout this donor campaign, we have also engaged new individuals to our cause. From volunteering in your own workplace, to partnering with civic organizations like Kiwanis or Rotary, to joining one of Whole Child’s many workgroups or its Professional Network, this community needs more individuals who are willing to give of themselves to support the healthy development of our youngest children and indeed this community.

So come to the table as we continue our work of identifying gaps in our service system for young children and their families and incubating creative solutions to fill those gaps. Whether it’s 72 minutes volunteering in some capacity, 72 books or other children’s items donated, $72 or $7,200 - we can all be part of the solution and continue to harness the spirit of giving beyond the holiday season and into 2021.
Paul Mitchell is a native Floridian from Palm Beach County with over 30 years experience in the government sector, both public and private. He is a policy and administration expert with the Southern Group’s Tallahassee office and has served on a number of boards and commissions, including the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) Integration Task Force, the Florida Commission on Economic Education and the “Just Read Florida” program, Who We Play For, and the Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation, the direct-support organization for the Department of Juvenile Justice. Paul joined the Whole Child Leon Board of Directors in 2018. 
In honor of Human Tracking Awareness month, we have assembled an expert panel to discuss youth trafficking in our community. Our speakers from Voices for Florida, Florida Council Against Sexual Violence and the Survive & Thrive Advocacy Center will discuss incidence rates, identification, resources to connect youth and families to, and uncover the gaps that exist in our service system and how you can help prevent the sinister manipulation that is stealing childhood.
The Survive & Thrive Advocacy Center has provided a list of Human Trafficking Awareness Events happening during the month of January from the Big Bend Coalition Against Human Trafficking. Download List
More than 40% of children who are trafficked were recruited by their own family members. And their reasons might not be what you think. Learn more.
Sinister Manipulation, Stolen Childhood
Police reports from Tallahassee’s biggest-ever investigation into child sex trafficking paint a heartbreaking picture of a girl barely in her teens forced into a life of prostitution and drugs — with her own mother and others orchestrating her agony.

A victim's story: The reality of being trafficked

Florida is a hotbed for human trafficking. We're in the top three in the country for the number of cases, yet most people wouldn't know it if they walked right by it. In just days, a new human trafficking law takes full effect. Its goal: to spot...

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Our Team is Hard at Work!
The Tallahassee Pediatric Behavioral Health Navigation (BHN) Program continue to complete consultations for families and facilitate outreach with primary care physicians throughout Leon County so they are aware of the free service available to help youth and families navigate difficult to access services. If your program would like to be on our list of community providers, contact brittany@wholechildleon.org.
Your pledge of $6/month or $72/year will help continue our efforts to incubate innovative ideas in early childhood like the BHN Program, advocate for much needed policy change, and coordinate resources to improve local systems. Become a Friend of Whole Child today!
The State of Mental Health in America

Mental Health America is committed to promoting mental health as a critical part of overall wellness. We advocate for prevention services for all, early identification and intervention for those at risk, integrated services, care and treatment...

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Helping Florida's young readers through the pandemic and ...

From Berenstain Bears to Bronte, developing the ability to make meaning from letters on a page has lasting implications. It's no secret that the effects of childhood reading struggles can linger for a lifetime and translate to poverty,...

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Five Fun Things to Do With 3-Year-Olds

If it seems like your 3-year-old is always in the Land of Make-Believe, you're not wrong. Games and activities for 3-year-olds are firmly rooted in imaginative play for good reason: Pretend play is seriously important developmental work for toddlers.

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Study underway to test if vaccine is safe for kids...

Two vaccines, from Moderna and Pfizer, are now available for adults. Children 16 and older can get the Pfizer vaccine, but some parents are concerned about impact on kids from any COVID-19 vaccine. Channel 3 spoke with medical experts, who say...

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Former Florida House Speaker Bense pledges to match...

Former Florida House of Representatives Speaker Allan Bense has pledged to match donations to local nonprofit Whole Child Leon. Bense, a Republican, served in the Florida House 1998-2006. He represented Gulf, Franklin and parts of Bay counties,...

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ICYMI: Florida State appoints new director for Florida ...

Florida State University · Florida State appoints new director for Florida Center for Reading Research Florida State University has appointed FSU Professor of Education Nicole Patton Terry as director of the Florida Center for Reading Research...

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For 15 years, HOPE Community has given people and dreams ...

Bob Streater sits in the study of his home in Southwood Community. Among the accolades and art on the wall is a photo of Streater lying on top of a bunk bed in a small room.

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April 5-9, 2021 | VIRTUAL

May 1, 2021 | Cascades Park

June 25, 2021 | Wesson School

August 2021 | Civic Center
Viral Voices

The Viral Voices: Sharing Your Pandemic Story project empowers Leon County citizens in grades K-12 to share their personal narratives about life during the COVID-19 pandemic. Make your voice heard; we're looking for your stories, poems, letters,...

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Using and Communicating Data to Advance Racial Equity ...

To develop equity-focused, data-driven policies requires equity principles be applied to how we think about and use data. This includes what research and policy questions we ask, how we engage with stakeholders to interpret data, and how we...

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Free Mental Health & Substance Use Services Available Via Telehealth
No-cost mental health and substance use counseling, medication, and services for low-income families and individuals needing help as a result of the pandemic are available through IMPOWER,
a Florida non-profit organization.

Now Hiring!
The Second Harvest of the Big Bend is seeking a Child Nutrition Program Coordinator to join its team.

"In our perfect ways. In the ways we are beautiful. In the ways we are human. We are here. Happy New Year’s. Let’s make it ours."
- Beyoncé
We convene several workgroups, policy committees and action teams. If you want to get involved with one, contact us.
  • Early Childhood Education and Empowerment Committee
  • Breastfeeding Policy Workgroup
  • Community Screening Team
  • Children's Week TLH Planning Committee
Building a Community Where Everyone Works Together to Make Sure All Children Thrive