MOUNT VERNON — Community leaders and children’s advocates gathered Monday morning on East High Street to launch April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Knox County. The gesture displays blue pinwheels, a variation on the abuse advocacy’s original blue ribbon imagery.
According to promotional material supplied by the Knox County Department of Job & Family Services, the blue ribbon movement began in Norfolk, Va., in 1989, when grandmother Bonnie Finney lost a 4-year-old grandson, Michael Wayne “Bubba” Dickenson, to violent physical abuse, despite her attempts to convince the authorities not to return the little boy to his parents. To provoke others to talk about this issue, Finney began wearing a ribbon of blue, the color of her grandson’s bruises.
DJFS Interim Director Matthew Kurtz said the 424 pinwheels stand for the people in Knox County who advocated for the safety and protection of children here in the year 2007. Since 2006, child abuse and neglect cases have remained troubling, he said, averaging over 300 cases per year. State funding has continued to fall throughout the period, according to statistics compiled byJana Shira, DJFS Children and Family Services Division administrator.
The Knox County Board of Commissioners supported the display with a proclamation naming April 2010 Child Abuse Prevention Month in Knox County. The commissioners identified Knox County’s children as the county’s most precious and valuable resource, noting that “children who are loved and nurtured grow up to love and nurture others, giving back to their own family, their community and their state.”
The pinwheel array, which will be on display on East High Street through April 9, at WMVO radio station April 12-16, Fredericktown public square April 19-23, and at Wiford Rental Sales and Service on April 26-30, was described by the commissioners as a “visual reminder [that] will serve as a call to action to Knox County residents to take action to prevent child abuse and neglect.”
Sponsors of the pinwheel project also include the Exchange Club of Mount Vernon and Knox County, the Kiwanis Club of Mount Vernon, the United Way of Knox County and the Family and Children First Council.