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Blue pinwheels point to child abuse prevention

Take a minute and look at the pinwheels spinning in the spring breeze on the lawn of Bank of Franklin at the intersection of Brookway Boulevard and Hwy. 51. It’s hard to miss them.

The Southwest Mississippi Children’s Advocacy Center, in association with the Bank of Franklin and Wal-Mart Distribution Center, have displayed these “Pinwheels for Prevention” in order to bring attention to April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Brooklyn Schmidt, outreach coordinator for the five-county district of which Lincoln County is a part, said child abuse in Southwest Mississippi is a desperate concern. The center was able to provide services to 564 children and their families during the last year.

The spinning pinwheels represent those children.

“Those are pinwheels for prevention,” said Kim Walley, the advocacy center’s executive director. “It’s better to get out and do the work to try to prevent child abuse than try to do it on the backend. Just be aware. It is happening, whether we want to think it is or not, it is.”

The center’s five-county area office is located in McComb and serves Copiah, Lincoln, Amite, Pike and Walthall counties, however, a satellite office in Brookhaven is in the works and will be located in the Medical Arts Building on North Jackson Street by July. That will make it more convenient for the families in Lincoln and Copiah counties, she said.

“Some children and families are having to drive more than an hour for services,” Walley said.

It will also allow for better accessibility for law enforcement officers who must miss hours of work to travel to McComb for interviews.

Walley said their main goal at the advocacy center is to help victims of child abuse to become children again. The center provides therapy, counseling and victim advocacy at no cost to children who have suffered abuse and members of their families. The center works alongside law enforcement agencies, Child Protective Services and local youth courts to provide complete investigations and support to children in need. 

In addition to the “Pinwheels for Prevention” at the Bank of Franklin, the center is also conducting abuse awareness and prevention puppet shows in area elementary schools. 

For more information about Child Abuse Prevention Month or any of the services provided by the Southwest Mississippi Children’s Advocacy Center, call 601-684-4009. 

Story by Micah Rutland