At the Erie Police Department, pinwheels of various colors have been carefully placed on the windows and walls of the lobby.
The toys serve as a symbol of National Child Abuse Prevention Month – a time to help people across the country understand that safe, stable and nurturing relationships, and environments, are necessary to ensure that children thrive.
This month, the police department and Blue Sky Bridge, a nonprofit organization, are working to spread awareness of this important issue.
“We actually have pinwheels all over the county right now, including in Erie,” said Gina Maione Earles, executive director at Blue Sky Bridge. “What we ultimately hope is that adults who see the pinwheels will start to think more about this issue and understand how incredibly prevalent it is.
“Research tells us there’s one in 10 children sexually abused before they turn 18, and that’s a pretty staggering number. So what we really want to see happen is adults to increase their protective factors for children.”
The hope of Blue Sky Bridge is to foster safe communities, healing and justice to end child abuse, the organization’s website states.
According to a news release, Blue Sky Bridge helps establish a foundation for the journey towards healing and provides a safe and welcoming space for youth who’ve experienced abuse or witnessed a violent crime.
Children are encouraged to tell their stores, receive ongoing support from a victim advocate, or have a forensic medical exam by a specialist in the field.
“There’s an entire structure of people and organizations right here in Boulder County, in Erie that are here to answer questions, help support them, and to just ensure that our kiddos either get out of unsafe situations or remain safe,” Maione Earles said.
“April is a time to celebrate the vital role communities play in protecting children,” said Erie Police Chief Kim Stewart in the release. “Everyone’s participation is critical to build and promote these protective environments.”
Blue Sky Bridge is committed to serving both the children who enter the abuse investigation process and those who have not yet found a way to tell their story, the website said.