The General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) Vinton Woman’s Club and the Vinton Police Department partnered on April 5 to plant a pinwheel garden in front of the Municipal Building to promote the month of April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This year the annual event took place despite inclement weather.
Woman’s Club member Kathryn Sowers addressed Town Council at its meeting a few minutes later to thank the town for allowing them to plant the garden of blue and silver pinwheels to raise awareness of child abuse in the United States and promote healthy childhoods. Similar gardens have been planted across the nation in April. The pinwheel was introduced in 2008 as the official symbol of great childhoods and to remind the community that all children deserve to be happy and healthy.
The GFWC is celebrating 130 years of service and volunteering in all 50 states and more than a dozen countries, working locally to create changes in the lives of others through volunteer service.
The clubs have also earned a reputation as a powerful force against domestic violence. In 2008, the GFWC adopted as their signature project working to bring hope to victims and survivors of domestic violence and abuse. Each year over 4.1 million referrals are made to child protection agencies involving 7.4 million children. A report of child abuse is reported every 10 seconds. Neglect is the Number One form of abuse. The goal of the GFWC is to “Step Up, Stand Up, Speak Up, Report It.”
In addition to promoting awareness of child abuse, the GFWC also supports and encourages the awareness of autism.
“Autism awareness is about celebrating and recognizing people on the autism spectrum, as well as researching and fundraising initiatives which promote inclusion for people with autism,” Sowers said. “The world’s understanding of autism as a disorder has changed drastically over time; until the second half of the 20th century, only people with severe symptoms were diagnosed with autism, and those who were diagnosed were often institutionalized.”
Autism was blamed on poor parenting or vaccinations, instead of understood as a neurological disorder. Autism Awareness Day (April 1) was created in 2007 by the Autism Speaks organization to celebrate those who live with autism for their diversity and unique talents.
In her remarks, Sowers also called attention to Ukraine, where there is a Woman’s Club whose members are now refugees due to the Russian invasion. She asked everyone to pray for Ukraine.
Vinton Town Council issued a proclamation recognizing April 2022 as National Child Abuse Prevention Month and called upon all citizens to work together to prevent child abuse. They thanked the club for displaying the pinwheels as a positive reminder that together we can prevent child abuse in our community.
“Our kids are our national treasure,” said Vinton Police Chief Fabricio Drumond. “Our children are the measure of our continuing legacy that’s full of passion, dreams, and resiliency. We become parents to foster children in the hopes they will be an even better version of ourselves. As adults, we pursue giving them love and compassion. As an organization built on the premise of community and the rule of law, it is only proper that we shed light on such a critical issue. As a community, child abuse prevention starts with each of us. We must be exemplary in helping others thrive while placing importance on family and not the erosion of family.
“In a world with so much adversity, our children need unconditional love, guidance, and a feeling of belonging,” he said. “The more of yourself you invest in our children, the more we’ll get back as a society. Practice patience and understand the pressures our youth are facing—our kids should be our priority and not a burden. The pressures of adulthood will undoubtedly come.
“No child should ever feel alone, and no child should ever be victimized by abuse. Be compassionate. Be a beacon of light for our kids. Healthy childhood development promotes an engaged future.
“Thank you to the GFWC Vinton Woman’s Club for their continued partnership with the Town of Vinton and its police department,” Drumond added. “Our goal will always be to bring light, spread awareness, and hope that one day, April will no longer be a placeholder for child maltreatment.”