Pinwheels for child abuse victims to cover courthouse lawn
The lawn in front of the Garfield County Courthouse will be covered with 223 blue pinwheels for the month of April to represent the 223 children River Bridge Regional Center served in 2018.
River Bridge Outreach Coordinator Bridget Derkash hopes blue pinwheels will remind passersby of the childhood innocence the community should protect, and bring attention to child abuse and how it can be prevented.
The best way to keep kids safe from child abuse, Derkash said, is to talk about prevention, in an age-appropriate way.
“What we’ve found is that the more you talk, the more likely people are to come forward and disclose if something has happened to them,” Derkash said.
Research suggests that one out of three girls, and one out of seven boys, have experienced some kind of abuse. “It’s happening all the time, and yet we’re not preparing children in our community about what to do if it happens,” Derkash said.
If adults don’t talk about it, kids won’t share because they sense it is taboo, she said.
“If we can talk about it in a developmentally appropriate way with kids, they are more likely to come forward if it happens,” Derkash said.
Since its founding 12 years ago, River Bridge has helped hundreds of victims of neglect and sexual abuse; mostly children but sometimes mentally challenged adults. And each year, they help more people than the last.
“Every year we see more kids, there has been an increase,” Derkash said. As River Bridge’s influence has grown, more people are willing to come forward and talk about their situation. Most of the victims River Bridge assists are from Garfield County, but the organization also serves Eagle, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties.
“There are more conversations happening, more presentations in schools. I think that has made a big difference for people to be able to come forward, and have a safe place where they can talk about the abuse they have experienced,” Derkash said.
For April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, River Bridge has several other events and programs to raise awareness for childhood abuse.
On Friday, April 5, River Bridge encourages people to wear blue, initiate conversations about abuse prevention, and post on social media using the #WearBlue hashtag.
People will have the chance to get a picture and “pawtograph” with Frasier, River Bridge’s therapy dog, on April 12.
River Bridge will host its annual fundraiser April 27 at the Thompson Barn in Carbondale, with food from local restaurants and live music.
“River Bridge started from a community group saying ‘we want to do more for the kids in our community.’ We feel really lucky to be part of the Garfield County community and the communities we serve,” Derkash said.
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