Pinwheel 'gardens' bloom in support of child abuse prevention month

Jimmy LaRoue
Contact Reporterjlarouejr@vagazette.com

Wondering what’s sprouting silver and blue around the greater Williamsburg area?

They’re pinwheels that have been planted in the ground in support of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, which runs through April.

Pinwheel gardens are growing throughout Williamsburg and James City County — outside the Williamsburg Police Department and James City County Law Enforcement Center, the James City County and Williamsburg libraries, the Williamsburg-James City County Courthouse, the James City County Human Services Center, Williamsburg Human Services, the James City County Emergency Operations Center, the James City County Complex and the James City County Recreation Center.

Rebecca Vinroot, James City County director of social services, said that at many of the gardens, 38 pinwheels are planted to represent the number of children in Virginia who died as a result of child abuse in the past fiscal year. Vinroot said most of the gardens have been sponsored by local donors.

“It’s really to bring awareness to the importance of prevention,” Vinroot said.

Vinroot said the Child Abuse Prevention Coalition of Greater Williamsburg — made up of James City County Department of Social Services, Williamsburg Department of Human Services, the Williamsburg and James City County police departments, the Williamsburg-James City Sheriff’s Office, James City County Parks and Recreation, Child Development Resources, Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Williamsburg-James City County Community Action Agency — has joined together to provide resources to the community on preventing child abuse.

The Williamsburg Police Department has a photo of its pinwheel garden on its Facebook page with the hashtag #stopchildabuse, and the department has been a part of the candlelight vigil for the past two years, according to Williamsburg Police Officer Charlie Ericsson. This year, the 21st anniversary vigil was held March 27 at King of Glory Lutheran Church on Longhill Road as a kickoff to National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

“It’s just another way to show our support to the community,” Ericsson said. “For people who don’t necessarily know about the candlelight vigil or programs like this. … We’re just trying to get the message out as best we can.”

Ericsson said when looking for signs of child abuse, if people see something, they should say something before it’s too late.

“We’d rather have somebody call us if they think something may be going on,” Ericsson said. “And then let us investigate, either through a social services complaint or go through a criminal investigation and find out, either yes, there’s something going on, or no, there’s nothing going on, then somebody not reporting it because they don’t think it’s important.”

Vinroot said the purpose of the pinwheel gardens is to provide a visual reminder that every child deserves a healthy, happy and carefree childhood that’s free from abuse and neglect.

“It’s really a collaborative effort that we do as a community to ensure that people have resources to go to if they are feeling stressed about parenting,” Vinroot said. “We know that parenting is not easy. We want to make sure that people have resources and outlets and ways to feel supported with all of our various entities.”

LaRoue can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342, by email at jlarouejr@vagazette.com or on Twitter @jlaroue.

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