'Pinwheels for Prevention' <br> Display heightens awareness of child abuse

  • Published
  • By Paula Tracy
  • Family advocacy outreach manager
Child abuse, in all forms, has been determined to be a consistent factor in predicting a child's future potential for poor academic performance, the abuse of alcohol or drugs, engaging in high-risk behavior or illegal activity and repeating the same cycle of abuse with their own children.

As concerned adults, we want to leave today's kids a legacy of nurturing homes and schools, safe neighborhoods and myriad opportunities for success. To do this everyone must play a part in community awareness and prevention. Only by working together can we begin to make a lasting impact in the lives of our children.

"Pinwheels for Prevention" is a national campaign begun by Prevent Child Abuse America. Through this campaign, the campaign hopes to change the public's beliefs and behaviors regarding the prevention of child abuse and neglect. This goes beyond just making Americans aware of the issue -- it extends to motivating them to take an active role in prevention and in their community.

Every April since 2007, Keesler's family advocacy program has used "Pinwheels for Prevention" as a reminder that child abuse and neglect is everyone's business and problem. Keesler was the first community in the state of Mississippi to use this colorful display for this purpose.

This year, the "Pinwheels for Prevention" display is again set up in front of the 81st Medical Group Hospital during April. It's a bright, colorful "garden" of approximately 980 twirling pinwheels.

Annually, 1,000 to 1,200 cases of "shaken baby syndrome" are substantiated in the United States. Many more cases are suspected, but remain unreported. These pinwheels recognize the lives of those babies permanently impacted by "just a few seconds" of being shaken.

Come out and visit the pinwheel garden, and when you do, make a pledge to yourself, your children, your grandchildren, your neighbors and your community. You can make a difference in someone's life, so do it. Be a mentor to that brand-new dad. Support your neighbor with the deployed spouse. Take a friend's kids for the afternoon so she can have a much-needed break. Have some parenting or relationship wisdom? Share it! Every time you reach out, you are adding one more thread to the blanket of protection that our little ones deserve.