Pinwheels for Child Abuse Prevention
The pinwheel gardens you see around town represent the happy, carefree childhood that every child deserves, but, sadly, not every child has.
Driving down N.C. Highway 211 toward Southport, one can’t help but notice the large display of blue pinwheels in the front lawn of St. Peter Lutheran Church in Southport. If you visit the Maritime Museum in Southport or go west on Ocean Highway in front of the Brunswick County Government complex in Bolivia, you will see two more gardens of blue pinwheels glistening in the sun. They are very intriguing and fun to look at, but what do they signify and why are they there?
Pinwheels are a symbol to remind us that April is Child Abuse Prevention month. They were introduced in 2008 by the North Carolina chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America, under the leadership of their president and former St. James resident, Rosie Allen. Allen initiated the tradition of “planting” a garden to St. Peter Church where she was a member and also to the Maritime Museum where she volunteered. She crisscrossed the state giving presentations on the need for communities to do their part in helping to mentor and coach new parents.
That first year there were 100 gardens across the state displaying about 20,000 pinwheels. And now for a bit of trivia. At St. Peter, the pinwheels are planted by putting the plastic tubing over a chopstick. No word on whether or not the other locations use a more sophisticated technique.
This year more than 50,000 pinwheels were planted all across the state. Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina has teamed up with N.C. Department of Health and Human Services in all 100 counties to promote awareness and encourage community action. They have also partnered with Smart Start in several counties, including Brunswick County.
Blue pinwheels were chosen because they represent a happy, carefree, innocent childhood, the kind we wish for every child in this country.
Sadly, that is not the kind every child has. According to the Prevent Child Abuse website, a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds. On average, five children per day die from abuse. A report issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says 46% of all child fatalities are the result of physical abuse. What can we do to help prevent this from happening?
Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, located in Morrisville, N.C., offers free online training to educate lay people about how to recognize the symptoms of child abuse and what to do if you suspect a child is being mistreated. They also provide evidence-based family strengthening programs to families and communities. And they sponsor a community effort called Connections Matter, which is a series of workshops and training programs designed to “educate the public on the intersecting topics of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), trauma, brain development and resilience.”
On its website, Connections Matter promotes “the building of more resilient, compassionate and trauma-informed communities, which will allow all children and individuals to succeed.”
Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina has several opportunities for volunteers to work with them. If child abuse is a problem you would like to help solve, you can visit the state chapter website at preventchildabusenc.org or call them at (919) 829-8009.