CHARLESTON — The pinwheels were spinning on a beautiful and breezy April day around Colonial Lake in downtown Charleston as children’s advocates gathered for a Child Abuse Prevention Month press conference.
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and representatives from Children’s Trust of South Carolina, Charleston County Department of Social Services, and Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center joined together for an event that designated Charleston as a 2018 Pinwheel City. Pinwheels are the national symbol for happy, healthy childhoods, as organizations, neighborhoods, schools, cities and states work together to raise awareness during this month on the importance of preventing child abuse and neglect.
“It’s a perfect day for pinwheels,” Tecklenburg said, thanking everyone around him for their roles in the prevention of child abuse. “It’s critical we do all we can to keep children safe and let families know who they can turn to in times of crisis.”
Lee Porter, Children’s Trust chief program officer, spoke to the importance of implementing proven prevention programs, which the organization does with local partners statewide. Through federal, state and private funding sources, Children’s Trust is investing $9 million this fiscal year with organizations across the state that provide direct services, including $1.2 million to those in the Lowcountry.
He stated the 17,662 South Carolina children in founded cases of child maltreatment during the previous year should serve as motivation for everyone to come together in addressing this public health epidemic.
“Children’s Trust is in a unique position to highlight prevention,” Porter said. “Until we can get upstream, we’ll have problems downstream. We have to embrace prevention in a positive way working together. It’s not a problem any of us can solve alone.”
Porter saluted Sylvia Mitchum, director of Charleston County DSS, and Carole Swiecicki, executive director of Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center, for the work their agencies are doing to support children and families in this area. Swiecicki thanked the mayor for drawing attention to child abuse prevention as well as the city’s commitment to providing safe homes for children.
“April is time for us to arm adults with information to protect children,” she said.
- All Children’s Pediatrics, Port Royal – Home Visiting
- Hopeful Horizons, Beaufort – Strengthening Families Program
- Low Country Health Care System, Fairfax – Home Visiting
- Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston – Home Visiting
- S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control/Lowcountry Region, Charleston – Home Visiting
- Windwood Family Services, Mt. Pleasant – Strengthening Families Program