Monday, January 17, 2022

Localities plant blue pinwheels for Child Abuse Awareness Month

Dozens of blue pinwheels appeared on the corners of Lafayette Street and Armistead Avenue on Mar. 29. (WYDaily/Courtesy of the Williamsburg Police Department)

HISTORIC TRIANGLE — You may have seen the gardens of pinwheels cropping up across the Historic Triangle. Little blue pinwheels in the dozens appeared in front of schools, apartment complexes, county offices, and first responder stations all seemingly overnight.  

And the pinwheels have an important message. 

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, and the blue pinwheel is a symbol to help raise awareness and to let children know that love shouldn’t hurt. 

The Child Abuse Prevention Coalition of Greater Williamsburg partnered with public safety departments from James City and York counties along with the City of Williamsburg to plant the pinwheels across the localities at the beginning of the month. 

“The pinwheel gardens represent our effort to ensure children grow up within a happy, healthy, and successful childhood. It’s all of our responsibilities to ensure that,” said Juliet Heishman, chair of the Child Abuse Prevention Coalition of Greater Williamsburg.

The coalition, though unable to do many of their usual awareness events due to the pandemic, has taken a virtual approach this year by using Facebook. One way of engaging with children and families is to educate them on resources and tips. Children and their families are encouraged to participate in a contest by submitting a drawing of their favorite family moment.

Parents can post a picture of their child’s drawing on Facebook and tag the coalition or email Heishman at Juliet.Heishman@jamescitycountyva.gov. Families have until April 30 to enter. Winners will receive prizes based on donations from local businesses.

In addition to pinwheels, the Williamsburg Police Department (WPD) sent 48 bottles of hand soap with Child Abuse Prevention stickers to Matthew Whaley Elementary School on April 1, according to WPD spokesperson John Heilman.

The WPD Delta Squad also delivered Family Activity Packets created by Child Abuse Prevention Coalition of Greater Williamsburg to Matthew Whaley. The packet includes information about the drawing contest, tips for talking to children about abuse, resources for adults, and the history of the Blue Ribbon campaign and the Pinwheels for Prevention campaign. Families can also visit the WPD station, located at 425 Armistead Ave., to pick up a packet.

According to Heilman, the WPD worked three cases of child abuse or neglect. So far this year, they’ve only had one case.

Williamsburg residents can call 757-220-6161 and ask to speak with a social worker about suspected abuse. York County residents can contact York County Social Services by calling 757-890-3787 or emailing socser@yorkcounty.gov. James City County residents should reach out to Child Protective Services by calling 757-259-3201.

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