Pinwheel drive seeks to fight child abuse

Ralston House gains from gardens, sales

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Blue pinwheels can be found in various locations this April in observance of National Child Abuse Prevention & Awareness Month. Several students from Northglenn High School’s National Honor Society, Lady Norse soccer team and student council assisted with planting 564 pinwheels in front of the school on April 12 with Paul Skattum, school resource officer, in attendance.

“Bringing awareness to the community has brought a proactive approach to the Ralston House mission,” said Vanessa DeMott, board member of the Ralston House child advocacy center. The Ralston House looks for volunteers who can offer “time, treasure and talent,” she added.

Every April, the blue pinwheels are planted as a beacon of hope at various locations for children who have suffered abuse. The pinwheels are a national symbol of child abuse awareness. “Each year there has been a substantial increase in the number of pinwheels ordered and sold to individuals and various locations that promote the pinwheel gardens,” according to DeMott.

One special location where 50 pinwheels were planted on April 12 was at the Jessica Ridgeway Memorial Park, 10765 Moore St. in Westminster. “The playground equipment was picked out by the fifth-grade classmates from Jessica’s school,” said Chris, Jessica’s grandmother. She added that “the color purple is for Jessica and green is for child abuse and loss.”

Jessica was abducted and murdered in 2012. Most of the garden at the park named for her has purple flowers. “The purple pansies were grown from seed in the City of Westminster’s greenhouse,” according to Keith Stieduhar, greenhouse crew leader. He and Shalene Hiller, horticulture specialist, planted the purple pansies to go along with the pinwheels in the garden. “This was Shalene’s idea this year,” said Stieduhar.

Front Range Community College also planted 564 pinwheels in their garden this year. “The pinwheels planted between Northglenn High School and Front Range College represents a total of 1,128 forensic interviews conducted by Ralston House in 2016,” according to DeMott.

Ralston House has contacted organizations in Jefferson, Adams and Broomfield counties asking them to plant gardens of pinwheels to raise awareness and support the children who have suffered from abuse within the community. This will also help fund efforts to keep children safe from abuse.

The goal this year is to raise $55,000 from pinwheel gardens and individual sales for services that Ralston House provides. They receive referrals from law enforcement, social services and the district attorney’s office. They work in conjunction with these entities to provide a safe zone to help children through situations of trauma from physical, emotional and sexual abuse. All services are provided free of charge.

According to Tara Roesener, Ralston House development officer, “Pinwheels can be purchased by our partner, the City of Westminster at: Westminster City Hall, the Public Safety Center and any of the Westminster Recreation Centers.” She added, “As thanks for individual donations, the City of Westminster is offering golf awards for Legacy Ridge or Walnut Creek Golf Preserve. Donations of $10 or more will receive a BOGO golf certificate. Donations of $30 or more will receive a free round of golf certificate.”

If you would like to visit other gardens or contribute to the cause and purchase pinwheels to create your own garden, visit www.ralstonhouse.net. Roesener added, “Pinwheels can also be purchased by calling calling 720-898-6752 or via email at troesener@arvada.org.

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