CONNEAUT — A spring breeze gave an extra spin to the dozens of pinwheels planted in front of the Lake Erie Correctional Institution Monday morning during a ceremony to recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Employees and administrators at the Conneaut prison gathered outside the main entrance to hear comments from Warden Brigham Sloan and Kathryn Whittington, community services coordinator with Ashtabula County Children Services.

“In 2014, there were 2,335 calls of suspected child abuse or neglect in Ashtabula County,” Whittington told the crowd. “We used to look at that number very sadly. Now we see it as 2,335 voices that stepped up to protect a child.”

The group also heard from a member of Bikers Against Child Abuse, an organization devoted to assisting children in an abusive or neglectful environment. “Sniper,” who declined to give his real name, is an Andover resident who has traveled to seven states within the past five months on behalf of BACA, formed 20 years ago.

Sniper urged the prison employees to do all they can to fight child abuse.

“There are probably another 2,000 to 3,000 kids (in the county) no one has spoken up for,” he said.

After the remarks, employees planted the twirling toys around a sign that read “Pinwheels are representative of the voices of those who spoke on behalf of a child that was being abused and/or neglected.”

After the ceremony, Sloan said the LaECI was happy to lend its support to the cause.

“It’s our responsibility to be a member of the community and to assist organizations that help make great childhoods for kids in Ashtabula County,” he said. “We’re committed to helping these organizations any way we can.”

Staff and members of the Children Services board will be planting pinwheels in a ceremony at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the county courthouse, 25 W. Jefferson St., Jefferson. The public is welcome to attend.

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