'We all have a role to play' in keeping children safe
Photos by Cindy Davis Meixel, writer/photo editor
“When you see these pinwheels planted, whether driving by or through a photo, I encourage you to take a moment of silence to reflect on those who cannot defend themselves,” said Krystle J. Richardson, president of Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Human Services & Restorative Justice Club. “And when you do, remember that it is all our jobs to protect them.”
For the second year, the HSJ Club joined other local agencies in planting a “pinwheel garden” to observe April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. This year’s “Pinwheels for Prevention” project, intended to raise awareness and show community dedication to preventing child abuse, can be viewed at the Jersey Shore Veterans Park. The 700 blue pinwheels on display represent the children assisted this past year by Lycoming County Children & Youth Services.
“We planted over 700 pinwheels, which is a small representation of the number of children served in Lycoming County,” said Matthew Salvatori, administrator of Lycoming County Children and Youth Services. “Community involvement and awareness is imperative in preventing child abuse and neglect. It is our hope that each year we will be able to reduce the number of pinwheels planted, creating a healthier community.”
Also joining the effort were: Lycoming Regional Police Department, Jersey Shore Borough Council and borough manager, West Branch Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission, PA State Police-Troop F, Trinity Episcopal Church Jersey Shore, Lycoming County District Attorney’s Office, Jersey Shore Area School District’s Students Assistance Program, and Lycoming-Clinton County Joinder Board.
“We acknowledge the hard work and dedication of all our community partners, concerned citizens, mandated reporters, children’s advocacy centers, elected officials and especially the detectives, police officers, troopers, school resource officers and members of Lycoming County Children and Youth Services who do difficult work each day investigating child abuse and neglect throughout Lycoming County,” said Captain Chris Kriner, Lycoming Regional Police Department. “We all have a role to play in preventing child abuse, and Lycoming Regional Police Department joins its partners across Lycoming County and Pennsylvania to remind our communities and neighborhoods to help keep children safe, healthy and strong.”
Richardson was joined at the Jersey Shore effort by fellow HSJ Club members enrolled in Penn College’s human services & restorative justice major. She said the club “is extremely honored to be invited” to the pinwheels planting and is happy to collaborate with organizations and agencies in similar meaningful activities.
“We have been more than appreciative of those in the community who reach out to the HSJ Club here at Penn College and consider us to be a part of their efforts and good causes,” Richardson added.
For 15 years, “Pinwheels for Prevention” gardens have been planted across the U.S. as a representative visual of children affected by child abuse and neglect and as a way of demonstrating a community’s efforts to support children and families. Pinwheels were adopted to personify a carefree childhood, and the blue color aligns with the blue ribbons that are a common symbol showing support for the issue.
Penn College offers Associate of Applied Science and Bachelor of Science degrees in human services & restorative justice.