The Angel Walk will be held on the campus of IU Kokomo on April 17. The event will begin with a rally in Alumi Hall at 5:30 p.m.         File Photo
The Angel Walk will be held on the campus of IU Kokomo on April 17. The event will begin with a rally in Alumi Hall at 5:30 p.m. File Photo

There are blue pinwheels cropping up all around the community this month. 

Whimsical and fun, they   symbolize the safe and happy childhood all children should have.  

They’re the outward showing of the community’s support for preventing child abuse. They’re also the symbol of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, which is observed every April. 

Members of the Family Service Association of Howard County and the Prevent Child Abuse Council have declared April as Child Abuse Prevention Month here in Howard County. In doing so, they encourage the community to get involved with the month-long campaign, whether by wearing a blue ribbon or displaying a pinwheel as a reminder that child abuse can be prevented. 

For those wishing to show their support of the Sign On Campaign, the Family Service Association’s Child Abuse program has a limited supply of blue ribbons, pinwheel bouquets, window clings and signs available. 

Materials and information can be requested by calling Sign On chairwoman Angela Garrett at 765-626-0827.

The pinwheels are just one part of a larger mission and calendar of events for the month. 

“If you knew the amount of children that come through the [domestic violence] shelter …” said FSA Executive Director Tracy Martino, pausing. “We need to stop the cycle of violence for those kids.”

And if the community didn’t have that shelter, Martino said, thousands of people would go unserved. 

“There’s only a few of them in the state,” she said. “This shelter serves Howard, Tipton, Cass and Miami counties. It’s very important to keep this operational.”

The shelter largely serves women who’ve suffered some kind of abuse, whether it’s physical, emotional, sexual or financial. And many times, Martino said, they’ve had to leave their entire lives behind to get there. 

“A lot of times, they don’t have anything when they come to the shelter except the clothing on their back,” she said. 

Upon arrival, guests are given clothing, hygiene products and a room. 

“In the shelter, they also get meals so we serve thousands of meals a year as well,” she said.

And to help raise funds to accomplish all the work the shelter does, the FSA is hosting “Angel Walk — Not On Our Campus, Not In Our Community” on April 17 in partnership with the Indiana University Kokomo Office of Student Life and Campus Diversity. 

A fundraising walk and rally against domestic violence and sexual assault, teams are still forming to complete the 1-mile walk and collect monetary donations for the domestic violence shelter. The event raised close to $15,000 last year, and Martino said they’re hoping to top that amount this year.

The event will begin with a 5:30 p.m. rally at the IUK Alumni Hall, with the walk starting at 6 p.m. The rally annually features a survivor sharing his or her story of abuse, but this year the speaker hits close to home for FSA.

“The survivor this year works for FSA,” Martino said. “It’s just really cool to see how this person has taken their situation and has turned it around to help others.”

And helping others is at the heart of the Angel Walk event, Audra Dowling, dean of students at IUK.

“We want our students, staff, faculty and community to know they have a support network that cares about them,” Dowling said. “We want them to know they can reach out to us just like we’re reaching out to them.”

Students are helping spread that message by creating banners to be displayed before the event in the Kelley Student Center, as well as during the rally and on the walk. Painted on sheets by teams, the banners bear such messages as “Love shouldn’t hurt — stop the violence” and “Don’t stand by, stand up, stand strong and stand together to end sexual violence.”

It’s all about becoming more proactive in the effort to prevent sexual assault, Dowling said. 

Organizers are still accepting teams to join the event. To form or join a team, call FSA at 765-457-9313 or the Office of Student Life and Campus Diversity at 765-455-9203.

FSA will also be getting the message out at First Friday on Fri., April 6. Those attending the downtown Kokomo event are encouraged to participate in Wear Blue Day. There will be child abuse prevention information available and pinwheels for children. Chalk the Block will have a photo op for children on the west side of the courthouse, and student artwork will be on display at the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library Main Branch. 

And then coming April 21 is Don’t Be A Monster! Frankenstein Family Fun Run and Walk. This family event will have car seat safety information, facepainting and Frankenstein-themed fun. The event will be 8 a.m. to noon in Jackson Morrow Park.

To sign up, call the Greentown Public Library at 765-628-3534 or The Villages at 765-455-8545.

Though the many planned events for April are different, they all have one thing in common — getting help to those who need it. 

“A lot of people in the community still don’t know where to get help,” Martino said. “We want them to know we are here to help them.”

To learn more, contact FSA by calling 765-457-9313 or by visiting fsahc.org.