Camp Zama Girl Scouts plant pinwheels to raise child abuse awareness

From left, Kaitlyn Dodson, 12; Madison Swanigan, 13; Jane Dalton, 12; and Naomi Thomas, 14, members of Girl Scout Troop 600, pose for a photo with their troop leader, Valerie Thomas, after planting pinwheels in honor of National Child Abuse Prevention Month at Camp Zama, Japan, April 6. (Photo Credit: Winifred Brown)
From left, Kaitlyn Dodson, 12; Madison Swanigan, 13; Jane Dalton, 12; and Naomi Thomas, 14, members of Girl Scout Troop 600, pose for a photo with their troop leader, Valerie Thomas, after planting pinwheels in honor of National Child Abuse Prevention Month at Camp Zama, Japan, April 6. (Photo Credit: Winifred Brown)

Camp Zama Girl Scouts plant pinwheels to raise child abuse awareness

by Winifred Brown
U.S. Army

CAMP ZAMA, Japan (April 8, 2021) – April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and to help raise awareness, Camp Zama Girl Scout cadets planted 32 pinwheels in the shape of an awareness ribbon near the installation’s front gate here April 6.

“I think it’s important that people know about child abuse and what some kids are going through, and this is a perfect way to bring awareness to it,” said Kaitlyn Dodson, one of four cadets from Troop 600 who participated. “[The pinwheels are displayed] right where people come on and off [post], so lots of people will see it and it will bring awareness to them about child abuse.”

The cadets planted the pinwheels next to the roundabout motorists drive through after entering Gate One on the installation. More than two feet high and brightly colored, the pinwheels also feature signs that read, “Give hope to a child,” and a blue awareness ribbon.

Darren Powell, a Family Advocacy Program specialist at Army Community Service, and Mara Brown, a victim advocate specialist with FAP, brought the pinwheels and helped the cadets arrange them in the grass.

Powell said child abuse prevention is a year-round priority for FAP, but it is also important to shine a light on the subject because April is the Month of the Military Child.

“We would like to be proactive more than reactive [in regard to] child abuse and neglect because a lot of people don’t realize they’re doing it,” Powell said. “It might be corporal punishment, or things like that, in ways that may constitute child abuse, but we just want to get them that information so that they can make better decisions around their parenting or discipline.”

Cadet Madison Swanigan, 13, said she is confident that because the pinwheels are a visual representation of the issue’s importance, they will bring awareness to the subject.

Likewise, Cadet Jane Dalton, 12, said a lot of people drive through the areas where the pinwheels are planted, and they are brightly colored, so a lot of people will see them.

Cadet Naomi Thomas, 14, said she was glad to help plant the pinwheels.

“I think it’s important to participate today because we want to spread awareness about child abuse, and it’s a very big thing that goes on in the military sometimes, so we need spread awareness,” Naomi said.

Meanwhile, Valerie Thomas, leader of Girl Scout Troop 600, said child abuse awareness is a critical subject, one she was proud to help the cadets highlight.

“For child abuse awareness, I think it’s important that people learn about the stressors that a lot of military parents are under so that we can prevent child abuse,” Thomas said. “It’s also important that other adults, especially those who work with children, know the signs of child abuse.”

Powell thanked Troop 600 for helping with the project.

“We’re proud of the help they do to help us out,” Powell said.

Members of the community can learn about the signs of child abuse and more by calling the FAP through ACS at (DSN) 315-263-4357 or (COMM) 046-407-4357.

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