Representatives from Akron Children’s Hospital, Mahoning County Children Services and Youngstown City School students planted 1,379 pinwheels in a high-profile spot in Boardman Park to honor victims of child abuse as part of the 11th annual Pinwheels for Prevention campaign.
Each pinwheel represents a child who received abuse and neglect services in 2015 in Mahoning County. The pinwheels fill the space between the church and the fence in Boardman Park, visible from busy Boardman-Poland Road (Rt. 224).
The pinwheels will be displayed throughout the month for Child Abuse Prevention Month.
“Child Abuse Prevention Month raises awareness of the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect,” said Andrea Mistovich, Child Advocacy Center coordinator, Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley.
This year, a statewide social media component was added to the program. The public is encouraged to take a photo by the pinwheel display and post it to their social media channels with the hashtag “#PinwheelSelfie.”
In 2015, Akron Children’s Child Advocacy Center served 568 clients. More than half of those clients were children under 6 years old. Out of 568 visits, 367 were related to sexual abuse.
“It is everyone’s responsibility to report suspected child abuse or neglect,” Mistovich said. “If you suspect abuse or neglect, speak up on behave of that child. It only takes one call to your local children services, which can be done anonymously, to be the voice for that child and help to stop the abuse.”
Since opening in 2000, Akron Children’s Child Advocacy Center has served more than 5,500 Mahoning Valley children who reported physical or sexual abuse. The center’s services include interviews, specialized medical examinations and foster care physicals.
These services are provided by a pediatric nurse practitioner with sexual assault nurse examiner training, a physician who is board certified in child abuse pediatrics, a licensed practical nurse, a forensically-trained social worker, a victim advocate and a coordinator.
In addition to Akron Childen’s, financial support for the center is provided by The National Children’s Alliance Program Support Grant, The Ohio Attorney General’s Office Safe Program, and grants.