A steady rain, soggy ground and near freezing temperatures weren’t going to prevent a determined group of cadets from Youngstown East High’s Junior ROTC program from completing a meaningful community service project.
Nearly two dozen students spent their morning doing their part to help raise awareness of April’s National Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month by planting 2,000 pinwheels in front of the St. James Meeting House in Boardman Park.
Each pinwheel represents an individual in the community who advocated on behalf of an abused or neglected child. In 2017, there was 2,280 cases of child abuse or neglect investigated in Mahoning County.
“This is a tangible reminder of why people need to be vigilant and report child abuse when they suspect it or see it,” said Jennifer Kollar, public information officer, Mahoning County Children Services. “It is a non-threatening way to remind people to speak out.”
It’s the 13th year for the pinwheel garden and related Pinwheels for Prevent community event scheduled for April 13 at 1 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Boardman. Both programs are conducted jointly by Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley’s Child Advocacy Center and Mahoning County Children Services.
National Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month promotes the importance and the need for families and communities to work together to prevent child abuse and neglect, as well as the importance for individuals to be vigilant and report suspected child abuse or neglect to local law enforcement and child protective services agencies.
“Everybody’s responsible for speaking up on behalf of abused or neglected children,” said Andrea Mistovich, Child Advocacy Center coordinator, Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley. “If you have any inkling, speak out because you might be the only one who does.”
The East High students planted the pinwheels for the 7th year.
“This represents a good cause for children that need to be heard,” said A’zuray Haynes, East High School senior. “The little things matter, and the pinwheels show that people do care and speak out.”
The Pinwheels for Prevention Community Event will feature keynote speaker David Kohout and the awarding of the annual Community Spotlight Award.
The event is funded in part by the Carter and Carol Lewis Family Child Advocacy fund.