By Shelby Stewart
Pinwheel gardens have retruned to Brandon Township and Downtown Ortonville this spring.
April is Child Abuse Prevention month, and the pinwheels are part of the awareness program through CARE House of Oakland County, which trains over 7,000 people in prevention every year. “We’ve been hearing since the beginning of the pandemic that child abuse will increase, but we will not have complete data on the subject until mid-2021 at the earliest,” said Ragen Rockwell, Brandon Groveland Youth Assistance and Holly Area Youth Assistance caseworker.
“Child abuse awareness and prevention is increasingly important while COVID restrictions are in place.”
BGYA volunteers placed hundreds of pinwheels around the township this month in an effort to raise awareness of child abuse, which Rockwell stresses is important, especially right now.
“We know that lack of visibility by mandated reporters, and others, has led to a decrease in reporting. The thought of this is absolutely heartbreaking when mandated reporters have only reported one in five cases of suspected abuse and neglect pre-COVID,” she said. “In times like this, it’s especially important for community members, churches, and local agencies to know the warning signs of child abuse and neglect to offer an additional layer of protection for at-risk youth.”
There are also signs and colorful puzzle pieces in conjunction with the pinwheels, which are part of April being Autism Awareness month. There are currently organizations rallying to change this to Autism Acceptance month.
“The rationale is to encourage celebrating differences as well as increasing inclusivity in which individuals with autism are connected and accepted,” said Diane Zedan, director of preschool and special education at Brandon Schools, citing an Oakland Schools Newsletter that explained why acceptance is important as opposed to just awareness.
“Words matter,” the newsletter also said. “And the shift promotes not only the importance of educating others about autism, but also fostering acceptance and improving supports and opportunities for individuals with autism.”