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ETHERIDGE: Help a child in need by ‘planting’ a pinwheel
Denise Etheridge
Denise Etheridge

Along with spring flowers, there will be gardens of pretty blue pinwheels whirling in the breeze across Newton and Walton counties starting on Saturday. That’s because these joyous and inexpensive children’s toys are being used across the U.S. and in the local community to bring home a serious message.

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month and as part of the annual Pinwheel Palooza fundraiser pinwheel gardens will be planted at First United Methodist Church in Covington at 10 a.m. this Saturday; at Loganville City Hall at 4 p.m. on March 30; at Friendship Park in Social Circle at 4 p.m. on March 31; and at First Baptist Church in Monroe at 10 a.m. on April 2.

Prevent Child Abuse Walton and A Child’s Voice Child Advocacy Center partnered to coordinate Pinwheel Palooza 2022 in Walton County.

These simple playthings can assist our local groups who work year round to protect children from abuse and neglect and provide services that promote happy childhoods and healthy families.

To help, donate $5 for a single pinwheel or $500 for one large pinwheel for year round recognition of child advocacy.

I know I’m looking forward to seeing row upon row of spinning pinwheels — not just because it shows how much the people in our communities care about one another, but it spurs a trip down sentimental lane.

I think most everyone had a pinwheel at some point to play with. It required no batteries, no assembly. It was a toy a 5-year-old could buy with a few coins given them by a grandparent. No breeze, no problem. Just blow and make your colorful pinwheel twirl.

Pinwheels apparently have a long history, and were first documented in 400 B.C. in China. These whirligigs symbolized turning one’s luck around and were traditional at Chinese New Year.

Perhaps if these pinwheel gardens bloom large, the luck of many mistreated children will change for the better.

Having met the dedicated team at A Child’s Voice CAC last year, I know they greatly appreciate the community’s involvement in Pinwheel Palooza. Their services are key to assisting children and families in our area heal from trauma caused by abuse and neglect.

Abuse can be emotional, physical and/or sexual.

It happens to rich and poor kids, those of every race, culture and religion.

According to PCA Georgia, the state ranked 38th in the nation for child well-being in 2020.

There were 8,690 confirmed abuse cases that year, with 763 children having been sexually abused, 1,108 being physically abused, 2,239 suffering psychological abuse and 5,563 cases of neglect. Keep in mind these are just the reported cases; it is estimated that 1 in 10 children experience sexual abuse by the time they are 18.

A Child’s Voice was incorporated in 2006 and began operating in 2009. Nancy Burgess, the center’s executive director, founded the nonprofit. The local advocacy center is housed in two suites at Brookstone Place in Social Circle.

The nonprofit coordinates with multiple agencies that are involved in investigating alleged abuse to include law enforcement, the Georgia Division of Family and Children’s Services, mental health counselors and prosecutors.

Trained specialists at the CAC conduct forensic interviews in child friendly interview rooms.

The organization also provides families resources for counseling and other supportive services.

A Child’s Voice is accredited through the National Children’s Alliance and the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Georgia.

For resources, visit, call 1-800-CHILDREN, or call 770-464-0082.

For more information, visit

To make a child abuse report in Georgia, call 1-855-GA-CHILD. If you believe a child is in immediate danger call 911.

A Child’s Voice maintains that, “Every child deserves a voice.” And each one of them deserves a pinwheel.

Newton County resident Denise Etheridge is a staff writer for The Walton Tribune. Her email address is