Like the daffodils that bobble in the spring wind, pinwheels planted along Route 20 in Ashtabula Township give hope for better days ahead.
For Tania Burnett, executive director of the Ashtabula County Children Services Board, it is a hope founded in fact. Last year, the agency received more than 2,400 calls reporting suspected child abuse. That number is up, another reason Burnett and Community Services Coordinator Cheryl Edwards have hope.
“Without the calls, children services would not know (about the instances of abuse),” Burnett told the group that gathered for the annual pinwheel event. “We really appreciate it; the community did an excellent job of taking care of our kids.”
The agency uses the pinwheels to draw attention to National Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month in April. Additionally, Wednesday was the National Day of Hope.
In prior years, a pinwheel was planted for every call received. Edwards said they scaled back this year and focused on the hope theme rather than the volume of calls. CSB staff, children from the Bright Beginnings Preschool at the Speech, Hearing and Rehab Center and about 30 members of the Ashtabula Youth Leadership 2012 Class participated in the ceremony.
Neil Johnston, a Youth Leadership (YL) leader, said this was the first time a YL class had participated in the pinwheel ceremony. The event just happened to coincide with spring break for the high school students and a day when they were visiting other county social and juvenile services.
“I think it’s a good thing for them to be involved in, so we might try to schedule it every year,” he said.
Ashtabula County Commissioners Joseph Moroski and Peggy Carlo presented a proclamation recognizing the CSB’s efforts to prevent child abuse. Burnett said the agency has a variety of programs that parents and grandparents can use to help them develop their parenting skills and keep families intact.
“We can’t produce change in everyone,” Burnett said. “But we know that of those 2,400 calls that came in, I’m confident we made some changes and a difference in some of those families’ lives.”
Edwards said they will continue to observe the prevention focus of April with a “Wear Blue to Work Day” on April 11, also the day of the agency’s Rising Up and Moving On recognition luncheon.