Madison County child protective workers investigated 1,176 reports of child abuse or neglect last year. It didn't take much more convincing for local agencies to sign onto the "Pinwheels for Prevention" initiative, a national event rooted in Georgia.
"Children shouldn't have to live in households where violence is the norm," said Michael A. Fitzgerald, commissioner of the Madison County Department of Social Services. "There are people being abused in our county, and reporting is a very important part [of combating the problem]."
State and local legislators joined representatives from more than a dozen agencies in "unveiling" the pinwheels at a ceremony April 6 in the parking lot of Wal-Mart Plaza in Oneida.
Members of the Madison County Priorities Council, a consortium of 16 public and private organizations that share the mission of promoting the well-being of children, say they hope the Pinwheels for Prevention display will help people understand Madison County's child abuse and neglect problems.
Organizers say the 1,100 pinwheels on display at the five corners in Oneida represent "only those cases where a caring adult took the time to seek help for a child being hurt in Madison County."
"It is appropriate that this comes on Good Friday, when so many of us reflect upon that event," said state Sen. David J. Valesky. "There is work we still need to do in the community. As people drive past these pinwheels during the next month, they will also have to remember that child abuse is a scourge on our society that frequently goes unreported."
"I'm not pleased to be here," said Stacy Alvord, executive director of the Community Action Partnership and former child protective worker. "Every one of these pinwheels represents a child in need. The majority of them are living in poverty, and child abuse is about poverty and isolation."