Child Abuse Prevention Month – The Chicago Community Comes Together

Mike Hoffman, Founder  *

I wish to express gratitude for a variety of successful events this April 2018 in Chicago, Illinois, which helped raise awareness of child abuse prevention efforts and  which will impact our community and ultimately serve to protect children from harm.

Abuse of children can occur in a culture of silence, but, instead, this month in Chicago we raised our voices in a variety of ways to help protect all of Gods children from any kind of harm.

  • Jeans Day at Signature Bank, Chicago – all employees we invited to pay $5.00 for the privilege of wearing Jeans to work on April 6, 2018. Pinwheels for Child Abuse Prevention were on display and handed out to all bank customers this day. The bank matched all funds collected for a total donation of over $500.00, to benefit the Healing Garden of the Archdiocese of Chicago programs. Thank you employees of Signature Bank, Chicago.
  • 7th Annual Child-Abuse Prevention Mass at St. Mary of the Woods Parish, Chicago, April 7, 2018. (Please see photos below.) Cardinal Blase Cupich celebrated this Liturgy. His presence and his leadership helped to foster a culture of speaking up and speaking out for safeguarding all of God’s children from any kind of harm. Following the Liturgy, all parishioners were invited to plant a Pinwheel for Child Abuse Awareness on the grounds of the church and school. This was not only a fun activity to do. We also left behind a dramatic, visual, public display of support for providing a safe environment for all children. Thank you Cardinal Cupich, Father Aidan O’Boyle and the wonderful parishioners of St. Mary of the Woods.
  • Radio show Catholic Chicago, April 23, 2018. Father Greg Sakowicz hosted a lively discussion of safe environment efforts within our parishes, schools and religious educations programs. Additionally, we spoke about the annual Prayer Service and Pinwheel Planting event – a public outreach prayer service because prayer is one part of the healing process for survivors and the community of believers. Public prayer is an important way of consciousness-raising within our Church. Thank you Father Greg Sakowicz, Mayra Flores and the listeners of Catholic Chicago radio.
  • 7th Annual Prayer Service and Pinwheel Planting, May 4, 2018, Healing Garden of the Archdiocese of Chicago (2017 event described here). Over 150 schoolchildren, parents, principals, priests, and concerned adults came together to express our care, compassion and concern for the safety and well-being of all children. Father Michael Gabriel and Father Lucas Laniauskas, SJ led the children in prayer and song in a very beautiful and hope-filled public effort. Together, we raised awareness of our on-going ministry to provide a safe environment so all children may thrive, grow and build up their faith with dignity. Thank you St. Ignatius College Prep, Hope and Healing Committee, Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, and to all who attended.
  • The local Chicago ABC television station also featured the Pinwheel event, helping spread the word about Pinwheels for Prevention and the community’s ability to raise awareness for child abuse and its prevention.

It is a joy to see the community come together for the safety, dignity and protection of all children during Child Abuse Prevention Month. We must keep up these efforts all year long.

I offer these ideas and examples as ways you might inspire your community to join in raising awareness of child abuse prevention in your community.

Ellie Cook holds a pinwheel during the 7th Annual Child-Abuse Prevention Mass at St. Mary of the Woods Church, Chicago, Illinois. (Julie Jaidinger/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich and parish administrator Fr. Aidan O’Boyle plant pinwheels after the 7th Annual Child-Abuse Prevention Mass at St. Mary of the Woods on April 7, 2018. (Julie Jaidinger/Chicago Catholic)

If you are interested in developing a Child Abuse Awareness initiative in your community, contact Mike for some great resources and coaching.

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