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CHE plants pinwheel garden for child abuse prevention

McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center Executive Director Julie Cecile, right, helps CHE kindergartener Aiden Bovenzi plant a pinwheel in the school’s front lawn. The school planted 400 pinwheels after raising $400 for McMahon/Ryan.

McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center Executive Director Julie Cecile, right, helps CHE kindergartener Aiden Bovenzi plant a pinwheel in the school’s front lawn. The school planted 400 pinwheels after raising $400 for McMahon/Ryan. Photo by Sarah Hall.

— Students at Chestnut Hill Elementary School planted a garden on Wednesday, May 2, but it wasn’t a traditional garden.

Instead of vegetables or flowers, the kids planted 400 pinwheels.

The pinwheels were planted on the school’s front lawn as part of a fundraiser the school conducted for the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center throughout the month of April. The Character Education Committee, advised by school counselor Christine Shea, and the Snack Shack Committee, led by special education teacher Susan McDonald, raised $400 for the organization, which opened its doors to a totally renovated 30,000-square-foot building, the former Reid Hall (former location of Syracuse University’s University College) at 601 East Genesee St. in June 2011.

“We have our Character Ed Committee that meets every month, and we do several different activities,” Shea said. “We’ve done cards for soldiers in Afghanistan. We did cards to children at Golisano Children’s Hospital. We do cards for the nursing home patients and placemats at Thanksgiving time. Every month, we try to do a different activity.”

Shea said the school received a letter from Julie Cecile, executive director of McMahon/Ryan, about the center’s fundraising efforts and the pinwheel garden, and it sounded like a good undertaking for the kids. Working with the Snack Shack Committee, which sells snacks to staff members and donates its profits, to a worthy cause, the Character Ed Committee took on the pinwheel garden project.

“I recently toured McMahon/Ryan’s new facility with all the other school psychologists, and just thought, what an excellent facility and such a great place,” Shea said. “And of course, at the schools, we’re all about keeping the kids safe, and McMahon-Ryan is certainly a group that does that.”

For each dollar raised, the school planted one pinwheel on its front lawn. The goal of the pinwheels, Cecile said, is to raise awareness of child abuse with a happy symbol of childhood.

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