Planted pinwheels raise awareness against child abuse

BIG RAPIDS — Blue and silver pinwheels will spin in the wind this week in downtown Big Rapids to raise awareness for child abuse.

“This is to call attention to the need for all of us to be more aware of child abuse and what people can do to help,” said Dee VanHorn, who helped “plant” more than 200 Pinwheels for Prevention on Michigan Avenue on Tuesday with members of the General Federation of Women’s Club – Big Rapids.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. The pinwheels represent Prevent Child Abuse America’s efforts to change the way people think about ending child abuse, focusing on community activities and public policies that prioritize prevention right from the start to make sure child abuse and neglect never occur.

According to the latest Child Maltreatment Report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1,640 children died from child abuse and more than 6 million others were victims of child abuse in one year.

During 2013, more than 23,000 cases were opened in the State of Michigan. Mecosta and Osceola counties opened 273 cases, which ultimately resulted in 64 active court cases. There are 120 children from Mecosta and Osceola counties in foster care, and foster care homes are greatly in need. In some instances, children are being placed in foster homes up to 90 miles from their home community.

As they see pinwheels blowing in the breeze, members of the community are asked to think about what they can do to help create safe and nurturing environments in which to raise our children and prevent these cases, Van Horn said. She and other GFWC members also wrote letters to local churches asking them to recognize Blue Sunday this weekend. National Blue Sunday falls on the last Sunday of April each year. The Blue Sunday organization is a nonprofit that fights against child abuse.

“We’re handing out blue ribbons that people can wear to raise awareness and encouraging people to help victims of child abuse,” VanHorn said. “God bless people who step up and provide care and support for those children, because those kids need it.”

Child abuse or neglect can be reported to the Department of Human Services at 855-444-3911. The toll free line is available for calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Names of reporting individuals are kept confidential. Anyone interested in becoming a foster parent can contact Bill Melcher at (231) 796-4322.

 

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Posted by Whitney Gronski-Buffa

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