Pinwheels & remembering Zahra Baker

By: 
Special To The ONE
Staff Writer

HICKORY – April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and The Children’s Advocacy & Protection Center of Catawba County has joined Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina in reinforcing the role that each person plays in ensuring that children, families and entire communities thrive by participating in the month-long nationwide campaign: “Everyone Can Make Great Childhoods Happen—Especially You, Especially Now!”

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed April to be the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a tradition that continues to this day. This year marks 10 years since the death of Zahra Baker. She was only 10 years old at the time of her death. This brought international media coverage to Hickory, North Carolina, and much sadness to our town. The Children’s Advocacy and Protection Center of Catawba County had planned a big Pinwheels for Prevention event at the Zahra Baker All Children’s Playground to honor Zahra and to kick off Child Abuse Prevention Month at the beginning of April. However, the Covid-19 virus forced those plans to be cancelled.

Yet, Catawba County is covered with Pinwheels! Pinwheel Gardens have been “planted” in front of homes and businesses. They are bringing awareness to the fact that April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. April is a time to help people across the country understand that safe, stable and nurturing relationships and environments are necessary to ensure that children grow up happy and healthy.

Equally important is recognizing that the time to act is now. COVID-19 has made life difficult for everyone—especially children and families. Although the risk to our children’s physical health from the outbreak itself appears to be low, the risk to our nation’s children for experiencing child abuse and neglect in times of extreme stress and uncertainty is actually quite high.

School and workplace closings can increase stress in parents’ lives, resulting from loss of income due to lack of paid leave; an unexpected or irregular need for childcare and even food insecurity, when school meal programs and other valuable resources become unavailable. Additionally, an unintended consequence of social distancing is isolation, which contradicts science proving that social and emotional connectedness and support are protective of mental health and positive discipline strategies. Statistics show that 30% of child abusers are immediate or extended family members.

To date, there are over 1700 Pinwheels scattered around our community. It is not too late to participate in “planting” a Pinwheel Garden. Pinwheels are $2 each and may be purchased online at www.catawbacountycapc.org/pinwheels.htm. Arrangements can be made for curbside pickup at The Children’s Advocacy & Protection Center or delivery to a home or business. Those purchasing the pinwheels are encouraged to take pictures of the gardens around the county and send them in to use on social media.

The CAPC is a non-profit organization that works to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse and serious physical abuse. It coordinates the efforts of Catawba County Social Services, law enforcement, and the District Attorney’s office.

More information about the CAPC is available on its website at catawbacountycapc.org. You may call the center at 828-465-9296. For more information about the pinwheels, email cengart@catawbacountync.gov.

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