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Planting blue to raise awareness

LIHU‘E — The keiki, both Girl Scouts from Wilcox Elementary School and the Boys &Girls Club Lihu‘e Clubhouse, succumbed to the brisk trade winds blowing along Hardy Street at the YWCA of Kaua‘i Women’s Center on Wednesday, April 12, 2023.

The keiki had gathered to join the YWCA of Kaua‘i and the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center to “plant” pinwheels for a blue pinwheel garden in observance of April being National Alcohol Awareness, Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

The wind teased the pinwheels being held by the many young hands and, finally, the keiki relented and used the wind to test the pinwheels’ effectiveness while waiting for the adult YWCA staff members and the Kaua‘i Police Department and county Office of the Prosecuting Attorney to soften the ground so the pinwheels could be planted.

Passing motorists honked their approval as the line of keiki wielded their pinwheels in the wind, and a loud cheer erupted when the tanker from the Lihu‘e fire station blared its truck horn while stopping in the street to enable firefighters to join their keiki in the planting.

More plantings were scheduled by the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center, with a similar gathering planting pinwheels at the state Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Office on ‘Umi Street in Lihu‘e on Thursday, April 13, 2023. But the largest gathering is anticipated on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, when pinwheels are planted at the Kaua‘i Police Department and Office of the Prosecuting Attorney’s building across from the state Judiciary courthouse building.

The gathering also coincided with the YWCA of Kaua‘i hosting an open house for people to learn more about the services available to survivors and their families, an effective demonstration of the strengthened and coordinated partnerships enhancing the safety, health and viability of community that is the goal of the national observance.

Amber Barbieri, the YWCA of Kaua‘i director of Crisis Services, said more than 1,400 children were reported as abused or neglected to the state Department of Human Services over the past five years, and more than 979 children received services through the Children’s Justice Center on Kaua‘i during the same period.

She said sexual violence is prevalent on Kaua‘i, impacting individuals, families and communities.

The YWCA of Kaua‘i fields an average of 150 sexual assault calls to its hotline every year, and provides an average of 1,200 hours of counseling services to sexual assault survivors and their families each year.

Research shows that, in Hawai‘i, 11.6 percent of adult women have been coerced into sex, 14.9 percent have been raped, and 28.2 percent report unwanted sexual contact.

Additionally, 1 in 10 children will experience a sexual assault before they reach age 18, and approximately 93 percent of children who are victims of sexual assault know their abuser.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or
Source: The Garden Island

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