April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and local residents are encouraged to get involved. For starters, volunteers are raising awareness by placing blue and white pinwheels around town – either as storefront paintings or actual “gardens” of potted pinwheels.
This Thursday is also a day to wear blue in support of the cause, although people are welcome to wear blue on Fridays, or multiple days of their choosing, said Jamie Fager, family advocacy coordinator at the Family Crisis Child Advocacy Center.
The Kansas Children’s Service League (KCSL), the Kansas chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America, promotes Wear Blue Day in support of promoting positive childhood experiences for Kansas children. Locally, efforts are sponsored by the Family Crisis Child Advocacy Center Staff, KCSL Healthy Families Team, 20th Judicial District Juvenile Services, Central Kansas CASA Inc., Department of Children & Families, The Center for Counseling & Consultation and Child Abuse Prevention Education (CAPE).
“When wearing blue on April 1st, we encourage everyone to share on social media with #growingbettertogether or send photos to our Facebook page, (https://www.facebook.com/FamilyCrisisCenter) and we’ll share them,” Fager said.
In 2008, Prevent Child Abuse America introduced the pinwheel as the new national symbol of child abuse prevention. This year 155 pinwheels have been assembled by volunteers, including residents of local Oxford Houses, according to Vicki Richardson, family engagement coordinator at the KCSL office in Great Bend. “The pinwheels are meant to be about creating resilience,” Richardson said.
Pinwheels for Prevention adds that people respond positively to the symbol. By its very nature, the pinwheel connotes whimsy and childlike notions. It essence, it serves as a physical reminder of great childhoods we all want for our children.
Pinwheels now line the hallway to Marissa Woodmansee’s office at Juvenile Services. Woodmansee said have youths assembling the pinwheel garden was an opportunity for education.
“Juvenile Services provides a couple of intervention programs for truancy and first-time misdemeanor offenders to which community services is a component of the program,” she said. “All our community services projects are supervised by Juvenile Services personnel, and this project provides a more insightful/educational element for our youth.”
The public is encouraged to recognize the signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect. Learn more online at preventchildabuse.org. If you suspect abuse or neglect call 800-922-5330.