Fort Dodge Community School District kicked off Child Abuse Prevention Month Monday.
The Iowa Central Community College student senate and Fort Dodge Senior High cheerleaders visited each FDCSD elementary building and the district's central office to start the prevention effort by putting up blue pinwheels with the young students.
"I have little groups of staff and students alike that put up pinwheels at all the elementary buildings at the same time," Dawn Erickson, FDCSD case manager, said. "We coordinated it so it would start at 7:40 and end at 8 (a.m.), so most of the kids coming to school can see the pinwheels."
With the blue pinwheels, students were encouraged to wear blue Monday, the color of Child Abuse Prevention Month.
"The pinwheels are a symbol of childhood," Erickson explained, "which should be lived carefree."
It is not the first time the event has been celebrated.
"A few years ago, in 2011, Mayor Matt Bemrich made it official that Fort Dodge will celebrate Child Abuse Prevention Month in the month of April," Erickson said.
The elementary students, along with Iowa Central student senate and FDSH cheerleaders, create sidewalk art with brightly colored chalk, depicting cartoon characters and inspiring messages of peace and hope.
"The kids are already loving the images that they're making, and guessing what they're making," Erickson said. "It's been fun."
The prevention effort comes with many activities for the district's students.
"We have worksheets for the kids on how to make pinwheels and a coloring sheet," Erickson said. "A couple of parenting tips in relation to child abuse prevention that will go home every Friday through the month of April, so the kids can get a message a home."
According to Erickson, there are more child abuse prevention events to come.
"The (Webster County) Family Development Committee has all kinds of things they'd like to do throughout the year to continue the message about child abuse prevention and create awareness," she said. "It's an important topic. We try to do something for the community to get the word out that it does exist and there are ways to help."
The topic, for many, is a difficult one to address, Erickson said.
"Not many people like to get involved for fear of many things," she said. "Not wanting to be in other people's business, retaliation by someone, fear of not knowing how to help or where to go for help. It's just something that happens that no one likes to talk out."