Erika Van Dam, a family and community health supervisor for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, recently received a certificate of recognition from Gov. Rick Snyder at the annual meeting of the Michigan Department of Community Health’s Child and Adolescent Health Center Program.
One of three recognized across the state for outstanding achievement, Van Dam received the award for her work to prevent interpersonal violence in teens and to reduce the stigma associate with domestic and sexual violence at the health department’s student health centers in Mancelona and Pellston.
Last year, the Ironmen Health Center in Mancelona received a small grant from the State of Michigan to serve as a pilot site for Project Connect, a national initiative of Futures Without Violence.
“Erika didn’t stop there,” said Pat Fralick, director of family and community health. “She took the content of Project Connect and spread its message to our other school health clinic and throughout the health district. She was also invited to attend a ‘Train the Trainer’ in Washington, D.C., to train other professionals in the field across the state of Michigan.”
Van Dam trained all of the health department’s public health nurses and public health technicians in recognizing and responding to adolescent relationship abuse.
She also reviewed the agency’s policies and procedures with staff from the Women’s Resource Center and revised them to assure they were relevant and comprehensive.
The Michigan Department of Community Health’s Child and Adolescent Health Center Program has since shared the revised policies and procedures with all coordinators across the state.
Both the Hornet Health Center and Ironmen Health Center have developed additional events and activities with Van Dam’s help, including providing small groups of adolescents with skills and tools to recognize relationship violence and provide leadership in their schools to prevent it.