GREAT FALLS — In honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month and in accordance with COVID-19 restrictions, the Great Falls Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect (PCAN) Task Force is encouraging people plant to plant pinwheels - a symbol of a happy, healthy childhood - virtually.
For several years, PCAN has planted pinwheels outside during the month of April to raise awareness about child abuse. This year, instead of placing a physical pinwheel in the ground as a reminder of child abuse awareness, participants will print out a paper pinwheel to color blue -the color that signifies child abuse awareness - and place it in the window of their home or workplace.
PCAN Community Outreach and Education Subcommittee Co-Chair, Jamie Marshall, said there are more risk factors present in families now given the current financial and health stresses many families are facing due to COVID-19.
“With school closures due to COVID-19, the reports looking to protect children are significantly down. So we just recognize that children are not being seen and as significantly influenced by as many people right now because we all need to stay home. But that need to be well-versed and aware of how to keep a child safe and how to watch for times when a family may need additional supports is probably more important now than ever,” Marshall said.
Marshall she hopes when residents see these pinwheels, they are reminded of their role in preventing child abuse in our community.
“We have had struggles with child abuse in this community certainly even in the not-so-distant past This is really a symbolic sign.. to say we as a community recognize the need for this and we come together in support of it,” Marshall said.
Marshall also encouraged the community to check in on others to support families during this time of high-stress.
“So many times those protective factors, those things that keep us all safe are really quite simple. And it's having that connection, knowing someone is there and supports you...letting somebody know you’re thinking of them. That can go a long way,” Marshall said.