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Planting gardens of compassion

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    Pinwheels were planted in 7th Street Park in Hudson in 2018 to raise awareness for child abuse prevention during the month of April.
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    Pinwheels were planted in 7th Street Park in Hudson in 2018 to raise awareness for child abuse prevention during the month of April. Amanda Purcell/Columbia-Greene Media
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    File photoHudson Mayor Rick Rector gives a speech following being officially sworn into office in January 2018. Rector vetoed a Common Council resolution Friday to terminate the city's contract with GAR Associates.
April 19, 2019 10:01 pm

HUDSON — The community is invited to “plant” pinwheels to raise awareness for children who are victims of abuse in Columbia and Greene counties.

Community members will plant pinwheels from 2 to 5 p.m. Monday in 7th Street Park, Hudson. In Greene County, the same event will be held at the Greene County Office Building, 411 Main St., on the right side of the building. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Club House, 455 Main St., will be open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for family fun activities and snacks.

All events are free and open to the community.

The events are sponsored by the Mental Health Association of Columbia and Greene Counties, the Child Advocacy Center of Columbia and Greene Counties and the REACH Center, a victim assistance program and rape crisis center.

The Child Advocacy Center of Columbia and Greene Counties in Hudson works with between 150 and 200 children each year who have witnessed or been victims of abuse, Child Advocacy Center and REACH Program Director Julianne Baumann said.

The gardens have been planted each year since 2015.

“Our hope is that by raising awareness on these topics, and providing information on resources in our community, we can empower victims and anyone who sees, experiences or suspects crime and/or abuse by increasing our efforts to take action,” Baumann said in a statement. “We can accomplish this by knowing what to do when we suspect it, how to report it and who to turn to for support and services for survivors.”

Child Advocacy Centers are child-friendly facilities that help abused and neglected children and their families. Representatives from law enforcement, child protective services, district attorneys offices, child and victim advocates, the mental health association and center staff work together to investigate cases and prosecute offenders.

Children often meet with a trained forensic interviewer, who compassionately works with the child to obtain information.

As part of each event, the Clothesline Project will honor survivors and acts as a memorial for victims of crime and abuse with a display of hand-designed T-shirts. These victimizations occurred to our family, friends, neighbors and those we know. Since 2008 The REACH Center has displayed Clothesline Project T-shirts throughout the community, in both Columbia and Greene Counties. Individuals from the community decorated these shirts, providing the opportunity to express how the victimization affected them, and the ones they love. The REACH Center accepts shirts from women, men, and children who are survivors of crime and abuse, as well as from friends and family members of victims. There are over 350 shirts displayed throughout the community, and more added each year.

“The members of child advocacy center are highly skilled at interviewing children at young ages,” Greene County District Attorney Joseph Stanzione said. “They know the process. They know how long to question them and when to stop and when to bring them back.”

When it comes to older child victims, “the child advocacy center will make sure they have proper housing, appropriate clothing and food and things of that nature. Sometimes these kids live on their own,” Stanzione said.

The pinwheels are planted in a garden to raise awareness of child abuse prevention.

April is known as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

“The pinwheel is a symbol of hope, safety, health and, most importantly, happiness,” according to as statement from the Child Advocacy Center. “It stands for carefree childhood we want for all children and is a call to neighbors, community members and leaders to play a role in protecting and nurturing our youngest citizens. It symbolizes our efforts to change the way our community thinks about child abuse prevention.”

“There have been many advances in law enforcement during my time working as DA and judge, and I believe, with the possible exception of DNA, the creation of child advocacy centers are the most important,” Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka said.

In addition to all major law enforcement agencies in the county, schools also utilize and report to child advocacy centers when it comes to suspected abuse.

“We do have some stragglers,” Czajka said, alluding to some school districts, which he declined to name. “When I say that, I mean there are a couple of school districts in the county, who don’t quite understand the importance of making prompt calls to the hotline and to law enforcement without conducting their own investigations.”

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to apurcell@thedailymail.net, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.