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Pinwheels for Prevention

Blue pinwheels are popping up across the map to promote Prevent Child Abuse Mississippi's (PCA MS) goals of education and prevention.

The agency, a partner with UMMC and the Children's Safe Center, worked with UMMC's Division of Information Services (DIS) to create a virtual pinwheel garden denoting the location of the donor's choice. The map is the first of its kind among the 50 state chapters under the umbrella of Prevent Child Abuse America.

The PCA MS map signifies donations to Mississippi's only statewide child abuse prevention organization. Any amount is accepted, and the donation can be made in memory of or in honor of a donor's special person, said local executive director Rebecca Mansell. PCA MS relies entirely on donations and legislative funding.

Pinwheels for Prevention is a nationwide initiative for Prevent Child Abuse America and its state affiliates. "The pinwheel is an uplifting reminder of childhood and the bright futures all children deserve," according the national PCA website. "When all children don't have equal opportunities for healthy growth and development, we put our future as a society at risk."

April is Prevent Child Abuse Month, and agencies are encouraged to sell pinwheels to "plant" in yards, offices and other places.

"We took that concept a step further, and with the help of DIS Web Development, and came up with a way to plant pinwheels electronically. This way people can donate with a few clicks on their smartphone or computer," Mansell said. "We may be the last state to join PCA America, but we're the first with a virtual garden," she said.

"There has been a lot of interest in what we've done and how we've done it," said Kerry Marshall, who heads up the DIS Web Development team.

"We've got the attention of our national organization, PCA America, and now they are trying to duplicate it for all the state chapters," Mansell said.

"Education is key for the prevention of child abuse," she said. There are several dominant triggers for potential child abuse, Mansell said. Crying is the No. 1 trigger for parents of infants, followed by discipline issues and toilet training.

"Our website has been designed to help parents cope with raising a child and to recognize the potential triggers that could cause abuse," she said. "It also will help others recognize the signs of an abused child and how to report it to the authorities."

Mansell said PCA MS will use some of the donations to create a video for new moms. "Our goal is to show this at childbirth classes and at the hospital when their babies are born. We want to emphasize how not to hurt their children." Other projects will focus on the organization's mission to prevent abuse and neglect of Mississippi's children.

According to national statistics, a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds every day. More than four children die each day as a result of child abuse. About 30 percent of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, according

Prevent Child Abuse America and its state organizations are also the charitable project of Kappa Delta sorority found on most university and college campuses. Support for PCA MS has been pledged by five Kappa Delta chapters in Mississippi, including Millsaps College, University of Southern Mississippi, University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University and Delta State University.