A crowd of 181 people attended the third annual “Pinwheels for Prevention Silent March” on Sunday afternoon.
The walk, held in observance of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, began in front of the Rainbow Center Division of Barium Springs in Wilkesboro and continued to Our House on Main Street.
There were over 1,200 reports of abuse or neglect in Wilkes County in 2012, said Bill Sebastian, executive director of the Wilkes Department of Social Services (DSS).
Sebastian, who spoke at the end of the walk at Our House, told the crowd many abused children have found loving homes, thanks to the efforts of his department and its community partners.
He said in 2012, there were 126 children in foster care and 28 were adopted through the Rainbow Center of Barium Springs and Ebenezer Christian Children’s Home. Sixteen were reunited with their parents and 27 were placed into custody of relatives.
Wilkesboro Mayor Mike Inscore was a speaker at the beginning of the walk at the Rainbow Center. He challenged the crowd to become involved in the fight against child abuse.
“The focus on child abuse prevention needs to go from what should we have done differently to what can we do differently?
“Too many times people focus on what is lost and not on what can be saved and recovered. Child abuse is a vicious cycle that needs to be broken. We need to learn how to stop it before it starts,” said Inscore.
“About 30 percent of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse. Our goal is to help break this cycle,” said Inscore.
He said statistics show that one out of every three cases of child abuse goes unreported and that according to research 1 in 5 children will be abused.
“Child abuse is a preventable tragedy. You can make a difference in the life of a child by knowing the signs and helping children learn what to do to stay safe. When children are raised in stimulating, nurturing environments they thrive and grow up to be successful, contributing members of their communities,” said Inscore.
“Communities that support policies and programs that encourage healthy development in all areas of their lives, at home, in school and in the community insure their future prosperity,” said Inscore.
“Programs that have been shown through research to be effective in strengthening families are smart investments for our community. Two such resources are the Rainbow Center and Our House,” said Inscore.
The Rainbow Center provides many human service programs for children and families in northwestern North Carolina including residential care, foster care services, family counseling and more.
Our House provides supervised visitation, parenting classes, and more in the area. Those visits are either supervised by Our House staff or by Department of Social Services social workers.
Welcoming the crowd to the walk on Sunday was April Nichols, regional development manager for Barium Springs Central Region-Rainbow Center. Barry Shew, the executive director at Child Abuse Prevention Team/Our House, delivered the opening prayer.
Each walker was given a pinwheel to be planted in the front yard of Our House to serve as a reminder of a shared responsibility to provide healthy environments and experiences for children. Those pinwheels will be moved to other locations throughout the month.
Organizers said 181 people included 163 walkers. Primary sponsors were the Rainbow Center and Our House, but other agencies were involved.
“It was a wonderful event which made a strong impact on the community, said Susan Allen, family advocate and special events coordinator with Our House.
Also involved with the walk were Wilkes County Department of Social Services, Wilkes County schools, Wilkes County Guardian ad Litem Program, SAFE’s Child Advocacy Center and Communities In Schools.
After the silent march and pinwheel garden planting, there was a “Child Abuse Prevention Volunteer Fair” on the lawn of Our House to educate the public on ways they can help in the prevention of child abuse in the community.
Refreshments were provided by Chick-fil-A and Dixie Donuts.
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