April 13, 2016
Pinwheels with a purpose
Toys planted in gardens for child abuse awareness
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Learning Adventure Day Care student Emily Ford, 4, creates a unique pinwheel Tuesday in Cortland as a reminder from the Child Advocacy Center to stay safe and listen to adults.
Throughout April at child learning centers around Cortland County, children will be planting a garden; not of flowers, but of pinwheels.
The statewide initiative called “Pinwheels for Prevention,” organized by the Child Advocacy Center, is designed to educate children on how to stay safe in abusive situations and remind the community that April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.
On Tuesday, Pamela Cullip, community outreach educator for the Child Advocacy Center, visited the Learning Adventure Day Care center in Cortland to make pinwheels and to give tips to a group of 4- and 5-year-old children about how to stay safe in abusive situations.
In a prepared statement, Kris Beard, coordinator for the Child Advocacy Center, said the pinwheel has come to symbolize commitment to preventive measures such as home visitation services, parent education, mutual self-help support, mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Beard said that another main goal of the pinwheels is to help get the word out about the Child Advocacy Center. She said that many people don’t realize what the center does or that it even exists in Cortland.
Located in the County Office Building at 60 Central Ave., Cortland, the center’s purpose is to prevent and investigate cases of child abuse and educate people about the issue. The center provides many services, such as child protection, counseling and care programs, according to Beard. And the gardens of pinwheels are used to spotlight them all.
Cullip started her session at the day care with a five-minute speech about how to keep safe in abusive situations, teaching kids when they put their hand out it means “Stop!” Every time Cullip put out her hand and asked the kids what the purpose of the motion was, they would yell, “Keep kids safe!” The lecture also taught kids who they should trust when an adult doesn’t keep them safe.
For the next half hour the children were given a sheet of paper and allowed to draw anything they wanted. Red, blue, green and yellow crayons furiously erased the white from the paper. Some kids favored red and blue while others used the whole spectrum of colors.
Once their designs were complete, Cullip and the two day care teachers, Terisa O’Gorman and Muriel Hurd, helped their students cut the paper and fold it into pinwheels. The students took those pinwheels home to share what they learned with their parents.
When that activity finished, the kids were given gleaming blue and silver plastic pinwheels, which they planted in a row in front of the day care.
Cullip likened the children working together as a cohesive group to what the community needs to do to ensure that children are kept safe.
“They’re doing exactly what we should be doing as a community — pulling together. We need to pull together the prevention services for the parents, to make sure the lifestyles we are giving to our children are exactly what they need to be,” she said.
The Learning Adventure Day Care center was Cullip’s second of four young children learning centers she is visiting for the “Pinwheels for Prevention” program in April. She had already stopped at the SUNY Child Daycare Center on April 6, and plans to visit the Cortland Free Library on Thursday and the Cortland Child Development Center on April 21.
“Our hope is to continue this throughout the years and every April when people see these blue pinwheels around, they’ll go, ‘Oh, there’s the pinwheels for child abuse prevention,’” Cullip said. “It starts to give child abuse prevention a positive twist instead of always focusing on the negative.”
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