Ceremony held to bring awareness to preventing child abuse

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Saturday was a chilly one in Switzerland County, but that didn’t stop a dedicated group of residents from gathering at the county courthouse. They gathered both in celebration and remembrance – and all vowed that someday their message would be heard.

In honor of “Child Abuse Prevention Month”, the Switzerland County Child Abuse Prevention Council held an observance at several locations around Vevay.

The group first stopped near the gazebo on the lawn of the Switzerland County Courthouse, where pinwheels were placed near a banner urging the prevention of child abuse.

Unlike previous years, when each pinwheel represented a child who had been abused, this year the council chose to celebrate, placing a pinwheel for each live birth that occurred in Switzerland County during the past year.

After placing the pinwheels, everyone moved across the courthouse lawn to the Switzerland County Sheriff’s office, where a blue and white wreath – the colors of the Child Abuse Prevention Council, was placed at the memorial bench for Steve Adams, the county deputy who died unexpectedly in September of 2006.

The wreath was placed by County Sheriff Nathan Hughes, chief deputy Roy Leap, deputy Richard Lock, and matron Donna Hughes.

Sheriff Hughes and Child Abuse Prevention Council president Ruth Haberle both commented on the dedication and commitment to county children that Steve Adams showed during his life. It was noted that the photo etched into the bench shows Officer Adams bending down to help a child.

The child in that photo – Phoenix Owen of Florence – was in attendance at Saturday’s observance along with grandmother Barbara Fletcher. Phoenix also had the honor of placing pinwheels around the memorial bench.

Ruth Haberle presented a bouquet of flowers to Donna Hughes for her support of child abuse prevention programs in the county; and then she presented a plaque to Sheriff Nathan Hughes for his efforts to curb child abuse in the community.

Mary Armstrong, Community Partners Director for Prevent Child Abuse Indiana, spoke to the crowd about the importance of continuing the effort to completely eliminate child abuse; noting that it was her hope that she would someday not have a job because child abuse no longer existed.

Mary Armstrong also noted that statistics in Indiana and across the nation show that the number of deaths and injuries as a result of abuse have fallen; but vowed to keep up the education of citizens about the dangers of abuse until the number falls to zero.

“I hope that someday when Phoenix is a man and he brings his child to see this bench, that his children won’t know that child abuse existed,” Mary Armstrong said. “We have to keep working to make that day a reality.”

After the program at the sheriff’s office, the group then held a remembrance walk down to the Paul Ogle Riverfront Park, where the day ended in celebration with a cookout and time of fellowship.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. For more information on how you can help, contact Barbara Fletcher of the Switzerland County Child Abuse Prevention Council at 427-3152.