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The City Journals

Beautiful Pinwheels Prevent Ugly Abuse

Apr 08, 2016 10:19AM ● By Tori La Rue

By Tori La Rue | [email protected]

Taylorsville - Taylorsville residents will plant over 650 blue pinwheels in the lawn outside Taylorsville City Hall on April 2, in hopes of creating a beautiful visual for an ugly subject.

The blue pinwheel, representing innocence, is the national symbol for child abuse prevention, and Taylorsville City has been planting hundreds of them outside city hall each April since 2012 to increase awareness about child abuse in Utah, Renee Sorensen, event planner, said. 

“A common misconception is that we don’t have those kinds of abuse problems here, but child abuse reports in Utah are higher than any other state in the country,” Mary Ann Lucero, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Utah, said. 

One out of four girls and one out of six boys is abused before the age of 18, according to Lucero’s statistics.

Councilmember Aimee Newton, of the Salt Lake County Council, said The Taylorsville Pinwheels for Prevention initiative helps residents realize that preventing child abuse is a community issue.

“As a parent, I love driving past the pinwheels with my kids,” Newton said. “When they ask what the pinwheels are for, it gives me a chance to talk about child abuse and help educate them on this important issue.” 

Many parents may not talk to their children about child abuse because they think their child is already aware of how to avoid abusive situations, but parents must talk with children repeatedly about abuse for it to sink in, Lucero said. 

“At the end of the day, a conversation is different than an education,” Lucero said. “Our goal is to [educate] children.”

Abuse prevention specialists from Lucero’s organization visit each primary and secondary school in the state to teach about abuse prevention. Soon, Prevent Child Abuse Utah will offer similar widespread seminars for parents to attend, she said. 

“I think the pinwheel garden is a good reminder for all parents, too, as there may be some in our community who need help,” Newton said. “Child abuse is a community issue that we should all be passionate about.”

The Taylorsville Student Council, children in the community and all other Taylorsville residents are invited to plant pinwheels at the event at 9 a.m. In order to participate, participants will need to bring a screwdriver to make holes in the ground for planting. 

The pinwheels are provided by the Taylorsville Exchange Club and the City of Taylorsville through Prevent Child Abuse Utah. The statewide organization purchases more than 36,000 pinwheels each year, which are sold to cities like Taylorsville that want to participate in the April pinwheel-planting tradition. 

“The only reason these events spread so far is because of wonderful people like Renee Sorensen,” Lucero said. 

Each year, Sorenson spends at least 20 hours working on the project. When asked why she volunteers, she said, “The answer is simple — it touches my heart.” 

As a member of the Taylorsville Exchange Club, Sorenson said she thought the pinwheel initiative would be a great addition to city’s event calendar. 

She met with Mayor Russ Wall and proposed that the Exchange Club plant a pinwheel garden in the front of city hall for the month of April.  City hall is the ideal location for the event because so many people drive by it, and the goal is to get as many people to see it as possible, Sorensen said.

Wall agreed and decided that the city would order banners for the light poles promoting April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, beginning in 2012. The banners and pinwheels have been put on display each April since that time. 

“Sometimes we need to be reminded about the world around us, and the pinwheel display gives a good opportunity for parents to talk to their children about this world and how to protect themselves,” Sorensen said. “Most parents want to be good parents. The pinwheel display can open the doors to find out where they can get help in becoming better parents.”