Pinwheel Gardens Symbolize Our Role in Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect

This April, look for gardens of blue pinwheels in communities across Michigan. 

These pinwheels carry an important message: they’re a visual reminder that we all play a role in preventing child abuse and neglect. 

Man stands next to pinwheel garden
A pinwheel garden in Grand Rapids. (Courtesy photo)

Child abuse is an urgent public health issue. Nationally, one in seven children has experienced child abuse or neglect in the past year. Child abuse and neglect is an adverse childhood experience that can affect an individual’s health, opportunities and well-being for the rest of their lives, if left untreated and unaddressed.

Adults with more adverse childhood experiences are more likely to have chronic diseases and engage in behaviors that put them at risk of long-term health effects.  

Blue Cross Plants Pinwheel Gardens Statewide 

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan – together with Blue Care Network and Blue Cross Complete – are partnering with the Children’s Trust Fund to raise awareness of Child Abuse Prevention Month this April. Part of these efforts will include pinwheel gardens in front of the office buildings of Blue Cross and its affiliate companies across Michigan as well as several community partners. 

Pinwheel gardens at the Belle Isle Aquarium
A pinwheel garden at the Belle Isle Aquarium. (Courtesy photo)

“Preventing child abuse and neglect takes everyone working together to recognize the signs and symptoms, and to know how to act if necessary. The pinwheels are a visual reminder of the responsibility we all carry as a community to keep children healthy and safe,” said Ken Hayward, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan vice president and special assistant to the president for Community Relations. 

Approximately 20,000 pinwheels will be installed at more than 100 sites from schools to hospitals to community centers across the state at participating organizations. Locations span from Flint to Petoskey, Saginaw to Hillsdale, Portland to Traverse City, Grand Rapids to Houghton Lake – and many more in between.  

A pinwheel garden in Gaylord.
A pinwheel garden in Gaylord. (Courtesy photo)

Installations in downtown Detroit will include pinwheel gardens at Grand Circus Park and at Campus Martius, where a 12-foot-tall rotating pinwheel made by Detroit’s own The Parade Company will be the centerpiece. Beacon Park will also be lit up with blue lights during April – the awareness color for Child Abuse Prevention Month.  

These pinwheel gardens are a part of Pinwheels for Prevention, the national signature campaign of Prevent Child Abuse America. Pinwheels are symbolic to the prevention effort and the hope, health and happiness each child deserves.  

Recognizing Signs of Child Abuse  

Child abuse can take many forms:  

  • Physical  
  • Neglect  
  • Sexual abuse  
  • Emotional abuse  
  • Abandonment  
A pinwheel garden in the city of Clawson.
A pinwheel garden in Clawson. (Courtesy photo)

There are some signs to watch for that may be indications that a child is being maltreated:  

  • Falling asleep in class or frequently fatigued  
  • Fear of being at home  
  • Frequent hunger, inappropriate clothes for the season and poor hygiene  
  • Lack of impulse or emotional control   
  • Self-destructive behaviors  
  • Significant weight changes  
  • Swollen lips or chipped teeth  
  • Unexplained cuts, bruises, bite marks, burns, or other physical injuries 
  • Withdrawing from others or uncomfortable with physical contact  

Anyone who has reasonable cause to suspect a under 18 years of age has been abused, neglected or exploited can report it. Here’s how to do so in Michigan:  

A pinwheel garden at the Blue Care Network office in Detroit.
A pinwheel garden at the Blue Care Network office in Detroit. (Courtesy photo)

The pinwheel gardens are one of the ways Blue Cross is partnering with the Children’s Trust Fund in 2022 to bring child abuse prevention and awareness to the forefront in 2022. For more information, click here.  

More from A Healthier Michigan: 

Photo credit: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan



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