DENVER, March 30, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Illuminate Colorado (Illuminate), the Colorado Chapter for Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA America), has given away 30,000 free Pinwheels for Prevention® to inspire Coloradans to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together. The nonprofit working to strengthen families, organizations and communities is calling on an additional 10,000 Coloradans to claim their FREE pinwheels and plant them in their front yards and neighborhoods as part of a national movement to recognize the importance of community-based support for all children and families during National Child Abuse Prevention Month this April, and all year-long.
“We can build healthier, safer and thriving communities if we take the same approach to raising families that we do to tending a community garden on a shared piece of land. Just like a plant is more likely to thrive in a garden with good soil and plenty of sunlight and water, families are more likely to thrive in nurturing communities,” said Jade Woodard, executive director of Illuminate Colorado.
Throughout the month of April, Illuminate and other PCAA chapters, as well as local supporters in more than 150 cities in Colorado, are planting pinwheels and using this community garden metaphor to reinforce the message that “every day, we help positive childhood experiences take root.” Planting a pinwheel represents the bright childhoods we all want for children.
“Research shows that positive childhood experiences in nurturing environments provide fertile ground for physical and mental health, learning, and social skills,” explained Dr. Melissa Merrick, president and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America. “By preventing child abuse and neglect we aim to holistically improve the lives of all families and the communities they live in.”
The Coronavirus outbreak and its subsequent losses have changed the world and prevention professionals are still working to understand the pandemic’s repercussions for incidents of child maltreatment to reduce adversity in childhood. The pandemic experience has had a consequential impact on an entire generation of children, sadly some more than others. Too many of our children have likely experienced at least one adverse childhood experience by now. Communities must nurture them going forward to heal.
The risk to our nation’s children for experiencing child abuse and neglect in times of extreme stress and uncertainty is quite high. COVID-19 has added stressors to the lives of parents and caregivers, such as loss of employment, loss of income due to lack of paid leave, school and business closings that necessitate new child care and homeschool arrangements, and food insecurity. The social connections and community services and activities that serve as protective factors against child abuse and neglect may not exist in this extraordinary time of physical distancing.
But few news reports since the COVID-19 pandemic began have focused on issues related to child abuse beyond the volume reports of child abuse, with an Associated Press analysis released this week highlighting a national total decrease of 18 percent in both total reports and investigations. Media coverage has overlooked the importance of protective factors that help buffer families from the negative consequences of exposure to risks, like isolation, unemployment, substance use and mental illness, by reducing the impact of the risk or changing the way a person parenting responds to the risk.
Families get overloaded with stress or risks and, like a truck carrying too much weight, they can’t move forward. But when parents, friends, family, employers, neighbors and community leaders know how to lighten the load by increasing the following protective factors, that is how tragedy can be avoided.
Having the Pinwheels Conversation
Far too many people, parents and professionals alike, don’t know how to prevent child abuse. Research has shown five Protective Factors have the power to prevent and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect.
“It is time to have a different conversation about helping families upstream. There is more than one narrative connected to child abuse prevention than whether or not reports are down or up, in fact there are at least five different stories to tell. If there is a child at home or in your neighborhood then every day, you have a responsibility to plant the seeds for all children to grow up happy and healthy and we all have a responsibility to help you grow a better tomorrow,” continued Woodard.
When we increase these five protective factors for all families, we strengthen families, prevent child abuse and build brighter childhoods.
1. Build Parental Resilience
Resilience is managing stress and dealing with your life, even when things get difficult.
Right now, stress is HIGH. You’ve likely felt a little short-temper, yelled or not been your best-self at moments. Everyone needs to practice self-care right now, especially parents. Take care of yourself, to take care of your kids. Share a mindfulness or stress management tip, encourage others parents to give themselves permission to not be perfect.
2. Build Social Connections
Having a network of friends and family helps us feel secure, confident and empowered. Accept help from others and look for opportunities to give back. Reach out to others, talk about what is going on in your life. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel. Focus on nurturing relationships where you feel respected and appreciated.
3. Build Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development
There is no perfect parent, but knowing what to expect does make the job easier. Discover what to expect as your child grows. Try new skills and tips to help your child progress and thrive. Pause to understand why your child is acting out and respond in a positive, nurturing, and developmentally appropriate way.
4. Build Concrete Support in Times of Need
Some problems are too big to solve alone. Knowing where to get help in the community can make life easier. Know what help is available in your community. Make a plan for what programs you might need if you were faced with unemployment or severe illness. Reach out and ask for support when needed. Share your story with others about programs and resources that have helped you.
5. Build Social and Emotional Competence of Children
Help children develop skills so they can manage their emotions and build healthy relationships with their peers and adults. Respond warmly and consistently to your child. Allow your child to express their emotions. Model how to be kind and interact positively with others.
So this April, during child abuse prevention month, the hope is at least 10,000 more people will plant a pinwheel. And, by the end of the month, with 40,000 pinwheels planted in front yards and neighborhoods throughout the state, more people will know how to plant the seeds for all children to grow up happy and healthy.
Illuminate also recommends the following ways that people everywhere can dig in and help raise awareness and impact virtually during child abuse month:
- Thursday, April 1, wear blue to show support for positive childhood experiences. Post a photo or video on social media and include the #WearBlueDay2021. Join together at 10:00 AM with Governor Jared Polis for the virtual launch of National Child Abuse Prevention Month in Colorado on Illuminate’s Facebook page.
- Enter the #GrowingBetterTogether Photo Contest. Submit a pinwheels photo for a chance to win a grant for your favorite Colorado nonprofit serving children and families! Photos with the most votes on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 at 1:00 pm (MTN) win the opportunity to select a Colorado nonprofit serving children and families to receive grants of $1,000, $300 and $200. See the campaign website for official rules.
- Join a FREE two-hour interactive virtual introductory course to learn how to “bring the protective factors to life” at home, work and in your community. Offered April 19, from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm and April 21 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Get inspired to move from knowledge to action in your community.
- April 8 is World Day for Prevention and Healing from Child Sexual Abuse — every survivor and their loved ones need access to services for healing and resilience. Together, we can reach a tipping point in Colorado where children grow up happy, healthy and safe in communities that prevent children from experiencing sexual abuse. If enough adults in a community take a FREE two-hour interactive online training then, together, we can create a new standard of child safety in your community and throughout Colorado. Visit TipColorado.org to help your county reach the tipping point.
- Join PCAA, sorority partners at Kappa Delta and Sigma Delta Tau and Illuminate in a Digital Advocacy Day. Contact your elected officials and spread the word about policy change that’s vital to the well-being of children and their families. Visit IlluminateColorado.org/2021policy for a guide to what policies and legislation in Colorado build protective factors.
- Use the hashtag #GrowingBetterTogether to connect to the movement in your community, find other ways to get involved and signify your commitment to helping children, families and entire communities to thrive. Illuminate Colorado is by no means the only organization in Colorado working to strengthen families or raise awareness during this time. Look for pinwheels in your community to begin to pop up soon as a sign of a family-friendly organization or home committed to planting the seeds for all children to grow up happy and healthy.
Visit COPinwheelsForPrevention.org to get involved, enter the #GrowingBetterTogether Photo Contest and learn more about how to strengthen your family and the families in your community.
About Illuminate Colorado
Illuminate Colorado is a statewide nonprofit strengthening families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment. With a research-based approach that emphasizes building promotive and protective factors, we address systemic and multi-sector issues by collaborating with families and partners at the community, state and national level to develop and implement powerful programs, policies and initiatives that keep kids safe in Colorado. Visit www.IlluminateColorado.org to learn more.
About Prevent Child Abuse America
Prevent Child Abuse America is a leading champion for all children in the United States. Founded in 1972 and headquartered in Chicago, we are the nation’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect, working to actively prevent all forms of child abuse and neglect before they occur. Our success is founded on a nationwide network of state chapters and nearly 600 Healthy Families America home visiting sites, which directly provide parents and caregivers a wide variety of services and resources that help children grow up to be productive, contributing members of their communities and society. Our comprehensive approach is informed by science—we translate and disseminate innovative research to promote proven solutions that our vast network then puts into action. And we raise public awareness and advocate for family friendly policies at the national, state, and local levels to support transformative programs and promote the conditions and contexts that help children, families, and communities across the country thrive. Visit preventchildabuse.org to learn more.