Editor's note: Updated with new ceremony date.
Members of the Exchange Club of Richmond Hill and Atlantic Area CASA are joining thousands of groups across the country throughout the month April to promote child abuse prevention awareness in their local communities. The Exchange Club of Richmond Hill and Atlantic Area CASA are displaying a blue pinwheel garden on the lawn in front of Ameris Bank in Richmond Hill. Each pinwheel represents one child who is in the foster care system from Bryan County.
The club and CASA will hold a brief ceremony at 4 p.m. Friday, April 1 in front of the bank (10425 Ford Ave.) to commemorate the pinwheel garden.
The purpose of the Pinwheel Garden and the silhouetted children is to raise awareness about the impacts of child abuse and neglect on our local community. Atlantic Area CASA supports the child welfare system to mitigate these impacts by training community volunteers to advocate for abused or neglected children in courts, ensuring the child’s best interests are always kept in mind throughout the process. Atlanta Area CASA serves six regional counties including Bryan. This year, CASA has supported 41 children in Bryan County with an assigned CASA.
Child abuse prevention is a worthy cause that is ingrained in the culture of the National Exchange Club as it is identified as Exchange’s national philanthropy. To champion the cause locally, the Richmond Hill Exchange Club has undertaken a number of awareness and fundraising efforts in the community.
Each year, club members wear blue every Monday in April and encourage others to do the same as a way to help spread awareness. In previous years, the club has also sold $3 blue ribbon pins in April, planted blue “pinwheel gardens” on Ford Avenue to commemorate the lives affected by child abuse, and paid for child abuse prevention messages to be displayed on digital billboards. The Richmond Hill club donates annually to the national and state child abuse prevention projects, and they provide “Time Out Teddy Bears” to the local juvenile court judge. The bears are used to comfort children who are required to be part of court proceedings.
“Child abuse awareness is not just a month for the staff and volunteers of Atlantic Area CASA; it’s a mission and it’s a passion to mitigate the effects abuse and neglect have on children of all ages. CASAs are advocates for children who enter foster care, and we speak up for what is right for that child,” said Petula Gomillion, Atlantic Area CASA's executive director.
For additional information about the work these organizations do to prevent child abuse, please follow the Richmond Hill Exchange Club on Facebook and visit www.atlanticcasa.org for Atlantic Area CASA.