Pinwheels take me back to my childhood – bright, colorful, shiny objects that blow in the wind. Now, as an adult, pinwheels represent the happy, healthy and care-free childhood I had and that all children deserve.
In 2008, Prevent Child Abuse America introduced the pinwheel as the national symbol for child abuse prevention. Friday, April 4, at 11 a.m., the Archdiocese of Chicago “pinwheel garden” will be created at the Healing Garden located at Holy Family Church on Roosevelt Road. This event is for children and adults. It will be a visual display of the Archdiocese’s commitment to protecting God’s children. On Wednesday, April 16, a big “pinwheel garden” will be staged in Gateway Park at Navy Pier to raise awareness of child abuse prevention. The Chicago event will feature volunteers holding pinwheels to create a visual reminder that children need protection. If you take Michigan Avenue on your drive to work or shop at Water Tower Place during April, you will be drawn to the blue ribbon clad trees outside the Fourth Presbyterian Church. These blue ribbons shimmering in the sun are another visual reminder of child abuse.
The Archdiocese has been active in child abuse prevention since 2004. That year, the Child Safety First program was introduced in the elementary schools. The program teaches children to recognize abuse and gives them skills to protect themselves. More recently, programs on internet safety have been offered to children. Over 200,000 young people in the Archdiocese have received age-appropriate training on abuse prevention. One of the program goals is to give children a voice; teach them to tell a trusted adult if someone does something that doesn’t “feel right” to them.
Children in our midst are at risk due to violence and neglect. My heart sinks every time another death or injury to a child is reported on the evening news. We all need to be vigilant, concerned and willing to act if we believe a child is being abused or neglected. We want all children to have happy childhood memories. Who knows – it may be pinwheels.
For more information on the work that the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth does, visit their websites, http://www.archchicago.org/departments/protection/protection.shtm and https://protectandhealchicago.org/.