Pinwheels at St. Elizabeth raise awareness for child abuse prevention

Halen Doughty
The pinwheel garden will be up throughout April, which is Child Abuse Prevention Month

Five hundred pinwheels were planted in front of St. Elizabeth Hospital in Gonzales to raise awareness for child abuse prevention. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the pinwheel garden sheds light on the problem too many children face in Louisiana. The partnership between St. Elizabeth and Child Abuse Services (CAS) demonstrates the community's commitment to keeping children safe.

Community outreach director with CAS, Lauren Williams, said in the pinwheel initiative, they partner with local businesses and individuals to plant pinwheel gardens throughout the month of April to raise awareness about the signs of child abuse. She said CAS served more than 1,100 children in their five-parish region last year alone.

Williams said CAS works with Court Appointed Special Advocates to help abused children navigate through the court system. She said they recruit and train people to serve as the voice for these children. They offer child-friendly environments where children can describe their situations in a safe place outside of a police station. The volunteers can take the child's statement once without forcing him or her to repeat it over and over.

Director of marketing at St. Elizabeth, Jon Hirsch, said they love partnering with local organizations that support services here in the area. He said although child abuse is not directly related to healthcare, it is indirectly related in so many ways. They deal with patients from birth on up, and it's important to recognize the signs of abuse or neglect in patients who come into their emergency rooms.

Assistant vice president of St. Elizabeth's mission, Victor Vidaurre, echoed that sentiment. He said CAS' work in protecting children aligns with the mission of the hospital, which is to extend the healing ministry of Jesus to God's people, especially those most in need.

The pinwheels draw attention to the problem. CAS seeks to educate the public about the warning signs of child abuse and how to respond if they believe a child is being hurt or neglected. Anyone who wants to plant a pinwheel garden at their home or business should call 1-800-798-1575. CAS provides the pinwheels and only asks that a donation be made to support their mission of keeping children safe.

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