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Fields of blue pinwheels dot the landscape

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Lydia Pongratz, NLJ Reporter

Bring awareness to child abuse prevention efforts

April holds a special place in the hearts of those who suffered traumatic events at a young age. Both nationally and in Wyoming, spring came early this year in the form of a garden of blue pinwheels to spread awareness on child abuse.

According to a study by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention, in the United States, at least one in every seven children has been a victim of child abuse or neglect in the past year.

“Pinwheel gardens happen to raise the awareness that child abuse happens in even our smaller communities. Wyoming is no different. Even though we have a smaller population, the statistics still hold the same in Wyoming, as in the national statistics,” said Jewel Parrish, who oversees Child Advocacy Centers of Wyoming, which is a chapter of the National Children’s Alliance and member of the Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center.

“Through our grant, we are an accredited member through the National Children’s Alliance,” Parrish said. “We receive resources from them and …  they are also part of our funding. So they give every state money to run a chapter to bring in resources and different things all around child advocacy.”

The Children’s Advocacy Project in Wyoming explains how these blue pinwheels spread awareness for children living in dangerous environments:

“Though for Wyoming, it is a little early to plant a garden, the Children’s Advocacy Project uses this month to plant a different type of garden. This garden is made of blue pinwheels to help bring awareness to Child Abuse Prevention Month. The month of April is nationally designated to acknowledge the importance of communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect. By its very nature, the pinwheel connotes whimsy and childlike notions. The pinwheel is meant to represent healthy, happy childhoods and is the official symbol of child abuse prevention. These pinwheels will serve as a visual reminder of the child abuse that continues to occur in our own community. We encourage you to plant a pinwheel in front of your home or business as a way of honoring those who have helped you or your children experience a childhood without abuse and neglect.”

On April 11, Gov. Mark Gordon
proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. Pinwheel planting in the state capital was held April 9.

A number of programs in Wyoming work to prevent abuse and to support those affected by abuse. CASA is one of those programs.

A program of volunteers who advocate for kids and families, CASA works with the Department of Family Services. Volunteers are trained so they can then grow relationships with kids in DFS custody. Volunteers  learn children’s needs and advocate for them in court and elsewhere.

“CASA and volunteers work with a lot of child abuse and neglect, so that’s where the program’s role comes from with the pinwheels,” explained Brea Terry, a Newcastle resident and CASA volunteer.

Spreading awareness in smaller communities such as Newcastle reminds everyone that child abuse and neglect still persists and affects children each and every day.

“[Awareness] helps reduce the stigma, because there is a stigma in small communities that it doesn’t happen here, that it happens in the big city. But it does happen here and just starting that awareness that it does and that there are people to support kids and families helps to make it easier for kids to report or families to reach out and get help,” Parrish said.

“The National Children’s Alliance provides an article referencing the three steps on how to protect your kids. The article ( indicates how to recognize abuse, how to prevent, and how to report abuse if you see it,” Parrish said.

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