Main Line Times & Suburban: Mission Kids education and outreach director named state ‘Blue Ribbon Champion’

Michelle McDyre, daughter of former Lansdale police chief, honored for work to protect children from abuse

Mission Kids’ Director of Prevention Education and Outreach Michelle McDyre was recently honored by the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance in Harrisburg for exceptional efforts to protect children in Pennsylvania from abuse and neglect.

In recognition of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, McDyre was named a PA Blue Ribbon Champion for Safe Kids, an award that is given annually to four individuals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to support and protect Pennsylvania’s children.

In honor of this accomplishment, PFSA and Department of Human Services Acting Secretary Valerie A. Arkoosh recognized McDyre in front of a packed audience of lawmakers, media, child advocates, and students in the Capitol Rotunda on April 4.

“I guess you could say my childhood was different,” McDyre explained to audience members as she received her award. “Growing up in a law enforcement family opened my eyes to some really scary, bad things in the world,” Michelle said. “But it also opened my eyes to the ‘helpers’ in the world.”

Michelle is the daughter of retired Lansdale Police Chief Robert McDyre, who served for more than three decades prior to retiring in 2017.

Chief McDyre instilled in Michelle a duty to serve others and “to do the right thing, simply because it was the right thing to do.” So it should come as no surprise that Michelle has become a cornerstone in Montgomery County’s child abuse prevention efforts through her work with Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center, a press release from Mission Kids stated.

Michelle McDyre launched Mission Kids’ Prevention Education Department and its “ROAR” program. ROAR is a child-based education program that teaches children ages 4 through 8 about body safety and empowers them to speak out if they ever feel they are in an inappropriate or unsafe situation. Her work was vitally important during the pandemic.

When schools switched to virtual learning and children were isolated from mandated reporters like teachers, coaches, and counselors, McDyre ensured that the ROAR program would still be taught virtually. Now in its third year, Mission Kids has reached more than 25,000 children in Montgomery County through ROAR, according to the statement.

“Without Michelle, our program simply would not be the success it is today,” LSW Mission Kids’ Chief Executive Officer of Services and Operations Leslie Slingsby said.

Fueled by her passion to protect children and relentless pursuit of raising awareness, McDyre built Mission Kids’ Prevention Education Program from the ground up. “What began as a one-woman operation in a few local schools has now expanded to an expert team of top-notch educators in 12 of our 22 public school districts in Montgomery County,” said Slingsby.

“There is no one more deserving of this recognition than Michelle. We are so grateful for her commitment to making a difference in the lives of our children in Montgomery County,” she said.

Under McDyre’s leadership, Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center employs six community prevention educators including one bi-lingual staff member who facilitates lessons in Spanish. Collectively, they deliver up to 30 trainings per week, and educated 3,893 adults and 9,887 children in 2022 alone. New this school year, Mission Kids’ prevention educators are participating in a pilot program with Penn State University’s Child Maltreatment Solutions Network and the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency for “Project Safe and Smart,” where the team will provide the innovative, evidence-based “Safe Touches” Program to an estimated 10,000 second graders and the “Smarter Parents” Program to caregivers across our Community over the next two years.

Since the organization launched its prevention education program under McDyre, Mission Kids has provided child abuse prevention training to more than 40,000 individuals since 2018 in Montgomery County.

“That’s a lot of kids who are empowered to speak up,” McDyre noted. “We’ve seen firsthand how disclosures during [prevention education] lessons lead to forensic interviews and services at our child advocacy center, meaning we’ve given children an avenue toward healing.”

From Main Line Times & Suburban, April 10, 2023

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