Pinwheels are reminder of child abuse prevention

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Display is on lawn at courthouse

By The Staff

The Winds of Change Pinwheel Gardens is in front of Levy County Courthouse this month. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month in Florida and across the nation. The Gardens represent the Winds of Change needed to safeguard all children by preventing abuse.

Ester Tibbs, Department of Children and Families Circuit Administrator says, “All of us see the consequences of child abuse and neglect that includes criminal activity, drug addiction, health and mental health problems, and school failures. What we have to remember is that the community can prevent child abuse before it ever begins. Every action we take to promote stable, nurturing families provides a foundation for future health and success.”

As part of the Winds of Change campaign, the Department of Children and Families, the Partnership for Strong Families and Healthy Families programs are distributing parenting guides featuring the Berenstain Bears. Parents are encouraged to call the Parent Helpline at 1-800-FLA-LOVE for information on raising the leaders of tomorrow and help with family problems. Calls are free and confidential.

Find out more at www.ounce.org. At the Web site, click on the Winds of Change for information on taking good care of kids on 23 topics from potty training, to keeping kids safe in the car, to managing stress.

“Our economic recession is creating increasing stress for area families and we see the impact on the families we serve.” said Shawn Salamida, CEO of Partnership for Strong Families. The Partnership is responsible for providing services and help to both children in foster homes and to families referred for help by the Department of Children and Families. Mr. Salamida says, “Our whole mission is to enhance the community’s ability to protect and nurture children by building, maintaining and constantly improving a network of family support services.”

Early childhood experiences influence a child’s developing brain and provide the foundation for all future stages of growth. While stable, nurturing experiences can help children cultivate the inner resources to overcome typical adversities in life, experiencing child abuse and neglect can be devastating to child development, often setting in motion a chain of events that have lifelong consequences as children grow to adulthood.

This year’s Winds of Change campaign theme, It’s Your Turn, is a call to individual and community action. Children should be a priority in all communities and neighborhoods. Whether a neighbor, teacher, police officer, librarian, mentor, coach or family member, everyone plays a role in providing healthy developmental opportunities for children.