The Valdosta Daily Times
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and since 2008, Lowndes County has honored the month by placing blue pinwheels and blue ribbons across downtown.
On Friday morning, this year’s pinwheels were placed downtown. Dozens of area residents and officials gathered. During the breakfast, Valdosta Mayor John Gayle and Lowndes County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter read a proclamation recognizing April as child abuse awareness month in the city and county.
Terri Jenkins, Red Cross South Georgia Chapter executive director, shared her personal experiences with child abuse, explaining the importance of raising awareness for the cause.
Elaine Grice, Court Appointed Special Advocate executive director, announced the blue-ribbon challenge. She shared the history behind the blue ribbon as well as the pinwheels. She recognized the hard work of everyone in the room.
“This is a room full of people who are protecting children. I challenge each of you, on a day-to-day basis, to tell everyone you can about child abuse and what the blue ribbons and pinwheels mean.”
Following the presentations, everyone was asked to step over to the City Hall front lawn to place the pinwheels. Each of the pinwheels represents a case of child abuse in Lowndes County for the year. In 2013, there were 887 cases of child abuse, so 887 pinwheels were placed.
“This is certainly important because it’s amazing that we have as many child-abuse cases as we do in Lowndes County. It’s a shame really, that children have to be exposed to this kind of thing. We hope that the word gets out and that everything is done to prevent any more cases than possible,” said Gayle.
“It’s really a tragedy that in our community or in any other community that we do have to deal with child abuse. I am also amazed with the hard work that a lot of organizations do behind the scenes to prevent child abuse,” Slaughter said.
By the time all of the pinwheels and ribbons had been placed, there was hardly an empty space available on the lawn or a light pole without a ribbon.
“We hope that when everyone sees these blue ribbons or pinwheels that they will recognize that all children have rights. They have the right to be safe and it’s the responsibility of the whole community,” said Deborah Maine, Children’s Advocacy Center executive director.
The pinwheel and blue ribbon kick-off is held in conjunction with Prevent Child Abuse Lowndes County, the Children’s Advocacy Center and the Flower Gallery.
More information: Visit www.pinwheelsforprevention.org, www.caclowndes.org and www.preventchildabuse.org.