This April, Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center has partnered with SEPTA to ‘plant’ 1,206 pinwheels at the Norristown Transportation Center in recognition of National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Mission Kids’ ‘Pinwheels for Prevention’ garden was unveiled to the community at a ceremony on Monday, April 3 by SEPTA leadership, local legislators, law enforcement partners, child protective services agencies, representatives from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office and other community stakeholders.
“SEPTA is proud to partner with Mission Kids during National Child Abuse Prevention Month to help raise awareness about the reality our community is facing and empower our neighbors to help prevent child abuse,” said SEPTA General Manager and CEO Leslie S. Richards. “I encourage everyone to stop by the Norristown Transportation Center, as these pinwheels serve as a reminder that we all play an important role in the lives of children in our communities.”
A symbol of childhood, the pinwheel represents what every child should have— the chance to experience the joy and innocence of childhood, to laugh and to play without the fear of physical or sexual abuse. The 1,206 pinwheels, which will remain on display at the Norristown Transportation Center on Dekalb Pike throughout the month of April, represent the 1,206 suspected child abuse victims that needed and received Mission Kids’ services last year.
Mission Kids is a Child Advocacy Center that offers a comprehensive, centrally-located, multidisciplinary team response to allegations of child abuse in Montgomery County. While it may come as a shock that more than 1,200 kids in our backyard needed these services, the truth is that the number of children in need is probably much higher. It can be painful to imagine and uncomfortable to talk about, but whether we address it or not, child abuse happens. And the only chance we have at preventing it is choosing to use our voice.
This is the purpose of the 1,206 pinwheels – to honor those served by Mission Kids and raise awareness, in hopes that by doing so, we can help prevent child abuse and keep our children safe.
By displaying pinwheels, Mission Kids joins with more than 40 local Children’s Advocacy Centers across the state to draw attention to the importance of providing children with safe, healthy environments. While each pinwheel symbolizes the trauma that child victims have endured, they also stand as a sign of resilience, healing and hope for the joyful future that children deserve. With the intervention and support that Children’s Advocacy Centers provide, child victims can heal from trauma. Bringing together law enforcement, child protective services, medical professionals, and trauma therapists, Mission Kids intervenes to stop abuse and ensure that victims and caregivers are connected to the support and resources they need to begin the healing process.
“Every one of those pinwheels represents a real child who is working every day to heal from something truly life-altering, that was never their fault,” Leslie Slingsby, Mission Kids’ Chief Executive Officer of Services and Operations stated. “But while 1,206 children were navigating their healing journey with Mission Kids last year, 9,887 children were learning to identify safe adults in their lives and speak out against abuse through our prevention education lessons in 11 of our 22 public school districts in Montgomery County.”
Through evidence-based programs, Mission Kids is helping children understand what body safety means by teaching kids strategies to protect themselves if someone puts them in an unsafe situation and helping them identify and communicate with a safe adult about these situations. Following prevention education lessons in schools each year, it’s not uncommon for a child to disclose abuse to Mission Kids’ staff or their school guidance counselor.
While empowering our children is a vital component of the fight against child abuse, preventing abuse is not the responsibility of our children – it is the responsibility of each and every one of us. Mission Kids is grateful to partner with SEPTA this year during National Child Abuse Prevention Month to bring to light the need for awareness and discussion around this devastating crime.
Learn more about how you can use your voice to help prevent child abuse in Montgomery County and beyond at missionkidscac.org/pinwheels.
Anyone with a concern about a child’s safety should call Pennsylvania’s ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313 to make a report.
For more information on National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Leslie Slingsby, Mission Kids’ Chief Executive Officer of Services and Operations, is available to discuss common myths about child abuse and the importance of community education to protect children.