Archdiocese of Chicago

Catholic Chicago Blog

Monday, March 31, 2014

Who Remembers Pinwheels?

By Jan Slattery

Pinwheels take me back to my childhood – bright, colorful, shiny objects that blow in the wind.  Now, as an adult, pinwheels represent the happy, healthy and care-free childhood I had and that all children deserve.

In 2008, Prevent Child Abuse America introduced the pinwheel as the national symbol for child abuse prevention.  Friday, April 4, at 11 a.m., the Archdiocese of Chicago “pinwheel garden” will be created at the Healing Garden located at Holy Family Church on Roosevelt Road.  This event is for children and adults.  It will be a visual display of the Archdiocese’s commitment to protecting God’s children.  On Wednesday, April 16, a big “pinwheel garden” will be staged in Gateway Park at Navy Pier to raise awareness of child abuse prevention.  The Chicago event will feature volunteers holding pinwheels to create a visual reminder that children need protection.  If you take Michigan Avenue on your drive to work or shop at Water Tower Place during April, you will be drawn to the blue ribbon clad trees outside the Fourth Presbyterian Church.  These blue ribbons shimmering in the sun are another visual reminder of child abuse.

The Archdiocese has been active in child abuse prevention since 2004. That year, the Child Safety First program was introduced in the elementary schools.  The program teaches children to recognize abuse and gives them skills to protect themselves.  More recently, programs on internet safety have been offered to children.  Over 200,000 young people in the Archdiocese have received age-appropriate training on abuse prevention.  One of the program goals is to give children a voice; teach them to tell a trusted adult if someone does something that doesn’t “feel right” to them.

Children in our midst are at risk due to violence and neglect.  My heart sinks every time another death or injury to a child is reported on the evening news. We all need to be vigilant, concerned and willing to act if we believe a child is being abused or neglected.  We want all children to have happy childhood memories.  Who knows – it may be pinwheels.   

For more information on the work that the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth does, visit their websites, and


Monday, April 07, 2014 2:51 PM

Thank you so much for raising awareness of child abuse prevention. The pinwheels are such a great symbol of the carefree lives and innocence that every child should be afforded! Signature Bank has been happy to "plant" our pinwheels with honor!

Ella R.

Monday, March 31, 2014 9:00 PM

I have attended the Healing Garden Service for the last few years and it is an amazing, healing and spiritual experience. I have seen it grow in strength and size as more people learn about it. The Healing Garden continues to help bring survivors together, give them a voice and be heard.

Karen S.

Monday, March 31, 2014 8:30 PM

A beautiful way to raise awareness!

Laura R.

Monday, March 31, 2014 6:53 PM

Our church (St. Mary of the Woods) has been involved in honoring Childhood Abuse Awareness month the past 2 Aprils. We "plant" our pinwheels out in front of the church and it is a gorgeous, happy sight- yet a remembrance of those who have suffered as well. Our 3rd "planting" will be this Saturday and I can't wait to see all those beautiful, blue pinwheels spinning in the wind! God Bless all our children!

Mary T.

Monday, March 31, 2014 6:45 PM

Thank you for all you do to better protect children.

Jennifer S.

Monday, March 31, 2014 5:21 PM

Jan, thank you for writing about pinwheels and all of the various ways to raise awareness of child abuse prevention efforts in Chicago. The pinwheel is a wonderful symbol of youth, innocence and joy. Your office is a leader in implementing the best practices of child safety in Catholic schools and parishes.

Mike H.