Hundreds of pinwheels were planted in Soldotna on Friday to highlight the importance of child abuse prevention.
The Central Peninsula Child Advocacy Center helped organize the event, which was held in front of the Soldotna Police Station.
The pinwheels will remain displayed throughout April to corresponds with National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
The blue pinwheels are part of the Pinwheels for Prevention program, and have been a symbol of child abuse prevention for more than two decades. This year marks the first time the Central Peninsula Child Advocacy Center has had a pinwheel event.
“We’re really trying to amp up our awareness and prevention on the Kenai Peninsula,” said Tawna Duncan, coordinator for the Central Peninsula Child Advocacy Center.
Duncan said that she wanted people to plant 580 pinwheels — one for every child that has been seen at the peninsula child advocacy centers since 2009, the year center opened in Kenai.
Duncan said she hoped the pinwheels would gain the attention of community members.
“We need to do what we can to respond to the children who have been hurt,” she said. “My hope is that people who see this take a minute and pause and think about the kids in the community and help them. That’s our job.”
At the child advocacy centers, children have a safe refuge if they feel they are in danger. The center also can assist with medical exams and referrals for counseling for both kids and families.
Duncan said that if anyone suspects abuse, they should report it to law enforcement and also the office of children’s services. She said many people are often wary of reporting a friend or family member suspected of abuse, so they can call anonymously.
“The most important thing is that a report gets made,” she said.
The advocacy center works with other organizations to prevent child abuse, including the Office of Children’s Services, local law enforcement, the district attorney and the department of juvenile services.
“It’s not a one-agency approach,” she said. “We work with a team. We would not be here without our team.”
Among the child advocacy groups present were several members of the Bikers Against Child Abuse temp charter. Bikers Against Child Abuse is an international organization of bikers that help children who have been subjected to physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
“We are a body of bikers that comes together to empower abused children to be able to move on from the trauma they’ve had in their lives,” said “Dice,” a member of the temp charter present at the event.
At event, bikers handed out temporary tattoos to children, helped set up the pinwheel stand and planted pinwheels.
Other community members showing support included Soldotna Police Chief Peter Mlynarik.
“We stand with the Child Advocacy Center in any cases that involve abuse in any way,” he said. “It’s important to show our support.”
Mlynarik said he was pleased that other child advocacy groups came out to show solidarity for the cause.
“It’s neat to see the support for this,” he said. “There aren’t many things more important than the kids. They’re the future.”
To report suspected child abuse, call the Office of Children’s Services at 1-855-352-8934
Reach Ian Foley at Ian.firstname.lastname@example.org