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Taylorsville 'Pinwheel Garden' puts attention on child abuse

Published: Saturday, April 6 2013 7:13 p.m. MDT

A Pinwheel Garden sits on the south side of Taylorsville City Hall to help raise awareness for preventing child abuse month Saturday, April 6, 2013, in Taylorsville.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

TAYLORSVILLE — Four-year-old Lulu Griffith happily wandered through the nearly 600 whirling blue and silver pinwheels stuck into the grass outside Taylorsville City Hall Saturday with one of the toys clutched in her hand.

"I just want to play with it," Lulu said as her pinwheel twirled in the wind.

Lulu said she felt good after helping her mother, Family Support Center Development Director Miriah Griffith and her 2-year-old brother Ethan, and other volunteers install the display to promote child abuse awareness.

"Yeah, of course I do," the little girl said softly. "I love helping."

The 2nd annual "Pinwheel Garden" will stay up through April for Child Abuse Awareness Month. Organizers hope the spinning toys, and the overhead banners advertising PreventChildAbuseUtah.org, will remind the public of the need to protect children.

"I want them to think of prevention," said Renee Sorensen, the prevent child abuse awareness chairwoman of the Taylorsville Exchange Club. "So many times when we think of child abuse, it's always intervention."

Sorensen said there are resources available for families about avoiding child abuse including improving parenting skills "to make every child's life like it should be. And that's what these pinwheels are all about. It's a child's toy."

Sorensen said Prevent Child Abuse Utah has organized similar displays in every county in the state "so that people realize there is help out there," including children, who are taught in school about bullying and other issues through the group.

Lulu's mother, Miriah Griffith, who works with troubled families through the private, non-profit Family Support Center headquartered in Taylorsville, said there needs to be more awareness of child abuse.

"We live in a very family friendly state and so I think a lot of times these victims fly under the radar. The truth is there are over 9,000 in the state of Utah and 3,500 here in Salt Lake County," Griffith said.

She said she hopes that drivers passing by the display along busy 5300 South will "really reflect on themselves about their own parenting styles, about things they're doing or not doing that could be improved and also start opening their eyes to their neighbors and other members in the community and watch for warning signs."

Such attention could have an impact on incidents like the shooting death of a 5-month-old boy in American Fork on Friday, Griffith said. "Sometimes those are just freak incidents that no one can foresee or prevent. But other times there's a pattern."

If people notice isolation, depression or other signs of stress in a parent, Griffith said, they may be able to make a difference by intervening.

"A lot of times, yes, if you're just aware of those signs and offer help or are aware of resources to direct them towards help, then it doesn't have to reach that level," she said.

Among the volunteers setting up the display were members of Girl Scout Troop 2532 who were robbed last month of more than $1,000 while selling Girl Scout cookies at a nearby Wal-Mart. 

Taylorsville city officials allowed the girls to sell cookies at city hall after the incident and provided them with police protection to ensure they felt safe, troop leader Jeanette Williams said. 

Girl Scout Rachel Gallegos, 11, of Kearns, said the troop wanted to participate Saturday because of the help they received from the community after the robbery. "We're just trying to help back to say, 'Thank you' for what they did."

Members of the Wasatch Front chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse also arrived on their motorcycles to help with the display. 

E-mail: lisa@deseretnews.com, Twitter: dnewspolitics

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