Pinwheel campaigns raise awareness of child abuse

Apr. 4—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Blue pinwheels are appearing across the region to call attention to local prevention efforts during National Childhood Abuse Awareness Month.

The annual Pinwheels for Prevention campaign represents childlike whimsy and lightheartedness and our vision for a world where all children grow up happy, healthy and prepared to succeed in supportive families and communities," the originating organization, Prevent Child Abuse America, says on its website.

The symbol also provides the annual theme for Johnstown-based Circle of Support Child Advocacy Center's Pinwheels for Prevention and Pinwheel Pledges campaigns, Executive Director Diana Grosik said in a press release.

"As adults, whether we are parents, teachers or community members, one of our greatest responsibilities is to protect our community's most valuable asset: Our children," Grosik said.

In addition to raising awareness about child abuse, the pinwheels campaign raises funds for the Circle of Support's local work helping victims of abuse, said Nina Licastro, outreach and development coordinator.

"We provide special services for child abuse victims and their families," Licastro said.

"We are part of the investigative process. We do the forensic interviews with the victims for Children and Youth Services, the police and the (district attorney)."

In the past, children had to endure interviews by several agencies investigating child abuse cases, Licastrol said.

At least six area school districts will be displaying pinwheel gardens for this year's National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Licastro said.

Businesses have the opportunity to participate by purchasing pinwheels and pinwheel merchandise by contacting Circle of Support Child Advocacy Center, 117 Work Drive, Johnstown, Pa. 15904, or by visiting www.cambriacac.org/ways-to-help.

April's big event will feature Johnstown's favorites — Even the Odds and Giants of Science — in Rock Out Child Abuse benefit concert and basket bash held April 26 at Ace's, 316 Chestnut St.

Sponsorship information is available at nlicastro@cambriacac.org.

Founded in 2015, Circle of Support has trained counselors who can work with children and reduce trauma. In addition, it provides community outreach and education to help identify child abuse and provide intervention for families.

"Each year, our organization serves over 200 child abuse victims and their families in Cambria and Bedford counties," Grosik said.

"In collaboration with our partner agencies, we connect families to services and help them create a lasting support system, healthier family relationships, and a positive, promising future.

"The services provided by our organization not only improve the overall health and wellness of our community but also help to reduce the lifetime projected economic costs associated with child abuse and neglect. Together, we can make a difference."