By Sarah Kuper
The Exchange Club Child Abuse Prevention Center has launched a month-long campaign to spread awareness and raise money for its cause.
The theme of the campaign is the “Power of 13 – there is no excuse for child abuse.” The number 13 is at the center of the campaign as a way to honor the 13 Alabama children who died as a result of child abuse in 2017.
The organization’s executive director, Stacy Hopkins, said one goal of the campaign is to see the whole city pay attention.
“We want to saturate the city with awareness and ways they can help. It is a taboo topic and people are in denial. We work with families to try to educate before it happens.”
The Exchange Club is using pinwheels as a way to draw attention to the cause. Thirteen partner organizations and businesses are planting what are being called pinwheel gardens for passers-by to take notice.
Community members including Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin have pledged to wear blue every Monday in April, and Birmingham City Hall will be lighted in blue throughout the month.
Supporters are also able to download a virtual pinwheel. Users can obtain a shareable Facebook or Twitter pinwheel image after filling out a form on the CAP website.
In addition to spreading the word on area billboards and through social media, the Exchange Club is hosting the annual Pinwheel for Prevention benefit ride at Barber Motorsports on April 14.
Motorcyclists will ride two laps around the track, followed by a barbecue picnic at the Bass Pro Shops nature pavilion.
Hopkins said she is eager for the community to learn more about child abuse prevention and the programs at the Exchange Club’s CAP Center.
“We are on the prevention side,” she said, “It all starts at home with strong families, children need parents to be strong.”
The CAP Center offers in-home parenting classes plus Positive Parenting Groups that meet around the city. The center has trained educators and speakers who can go into schools or churches and talk with children about everything from peer pressure to speaking up about abuse.
Hopkins said people often ask her how she is able to work in a field involving child abuse. She said she focuses on keeping tragedy from happening in the first place.
“Child abuse comes in many different forms. It isn’t always the worst of the worst. There are also those parents that are so wrapped up in whatever life has thrown at them that they aren’t communicating with their children or filling other needs. Our programs can break the cycle.”
With the money raised this month and throughout the year, Hopkins said the organization plans to expand programming.
“We want to serve more families, more kids, hire more safe-kid coordinators and parent educators.”
To learn more about the CAP Center, to make a donation or to download a virtual pinwheel, visit 4cap.org. ❖