As shiny blue pinwheels spun in the wind, folks gathered at the Zahra Baker All Children’s Playground in Hickory on Wednesday to recognize National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
“Child maltreatment is preventable,” said Adrienne Opdyke, director of the Children’s Advocacy and Protection Center.
The annual event, called Pinwheels for Prevention, is designed to promote community activities that support families and public policies that prioritize prevention, according to the Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina website.
Each year the advocacy group, along with other community organizations, places blue pinwheels in the grass at the Zahra Baker playground at Kiwanis Park in Hickory. The theme for this year’s Child Abuse Prevention Month is, “You Can Be a Connection.”
“We know that connections matter to developing healthy brains, caring relationships and thriving communities,” said Opdyke. “All adults play a role in creating caring connections and nurturing environments for the healthy development of future generations of parents, leaders and our community members.”
A quilt memorializing North Carolina children who lost their lives to abuse or neglect in 2018 was prominent during Wednesday’s ceremony. Under normal circumstances, the quilt would have been presented during an annual vigil held by the advocacy group in October.
Since the vigil was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 virus, the quilt was presented on Wednesday. “For nine years, my mom Linda Henson has been honored to create these quilts in order to memorialize these children,” said Karen Henson, outpatient therapist for the group.
Linda Henson creates her quilts by using T-shirts with the children’s names on them, which are made by Hickory High School art students. “This year’s quilt is called Floating Free, and there are 18 bubbles — plus one for the unknown child — for North Carolina children who lost their lives in 2018 due to abuse and neglect,” said Karen Henson.
To learn more about the Children’s Advocacy and Protection Center and their upcoming Denim and Diamonds fundraiser, visit www.catawbacountycapc.org.
Emily Willis is a general assignment and education reporter at the
Hickory Daily Record.