Breckenridge Texan

Child Welfare Board honors child abuse victims with annual courthouse display

Child Welfare Board honors child abuse victims with annual courthouse display
April 14
09:12 2021

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

It is a somber task that the members of the Stephens County Child Welfare Board take on each April as they honor the children of the world who have died from abuse or neglect in the past year. And, yet, the group of local women makes an effort to turn the annual Child Abuse Awareness Month display in front of the Stephens County Courthouse into a celebration of the children’s lives, rather than just a symbolic graveyard.

Sandy Broyles tests out a pinwheel on a windy morning last week as she and other members of the Child Welfare Board arranged a display on the courthouse lawn. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/ Breckenridge Texan)

Last week, eight women gathered to place dozens of small white crosses on the courthouse lawn in remembrance of the 235 regional children who died from abuse and neglect in 2020 and part of 2019. Nestled among the crosses are blue and silver pinwheels, as well as wooden cutouts of small children and cartoon characters. The display also includes a larger cross, some signs explaining the meaning of the items, and a tree covered with 20 pairs of shoes, representing the 20 local children who are in foster care.

Working on the display were Stephens County Child Welfare Board Chair Sharon Wimberley and members Alva Carey, Jan Davis, Carla Barnes, Fran Sikes, Sandy Broyles, Linda Lippe and Linda Burdic. A couple of members, Ruth Taylor and Stephanee Russell, couldn’t attend the event. Helping out were courthouse employee Jhon Rios and Stephens County Commissioner Eric O’Dell.

The morning they worked on the display, the ground was so dry and hard, they had to pour water onto the spots where they wanted to place the crosses. Some used hammers and spikes to pre-drill holes into the dirt so that the crosses and pinwheels would stand firm in the winds that blew through downtown Breckenridge.

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, and each year, the child welfare board members try to make the display a little different than past years. This year, they added small red birds and bluebonnets.

Later in the month, the board will host a candlelight ceremony with County Judge Michael Roach in front of the courthouse to pray for all children, alive and deceased. The ceremony will be open to the public. The specific date and time of the ceremony haven’t been decided on yet.

Additionally, the last Sunday in April is known as Blue Sunday and is designated as a day of prayer in churches that choose to participate and pray for the victims of child abuse and for those who rescue them. Members of the Stephens County Child Welfare Board will be contacting each local church and inviting them to participate.

Symbolism

The items featured in the Child Abuse Awareness Month display in front of the Stephens County Courthouse have symbolic meanings in the fight against abuse and neglect.

Stephens County Child Welfare Board members Jan Davis and Alva Carey place blue and silver pinwheels on the courthouse lawn for Child Abuse Awareness Month. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

According to a Chicago Tribune article, the color blue became associated with child abuse awareness through the tragic story of Michael Wayne Dickson, a 3-year-old who was beaten to death in 1989 by his mother’s boyfriend. After the incident, his grandmother, Bonnie Finney was “outraged, distraught and haunted by the memories of the black-and-blue marks that covered her grandson’s body,” the story says. So, she attached a blue ribbon to her car antenna in remembrance of young child abuse victims and in outrage of such crimes. Over time, the color blue was adopted by organizations trying to prevent abuse. The Stephens County display includes blue ribbons, blue pinwheels and bluebonnets.

Additionally, according to the organization Prevent Child Abuse America, the pinwheels represent “childlike whimsy and lightheartedness and our vision for a world where all children grow up happy, healthy, and prepared to succeed in supportive families and communities.”

This year, tiny red birds were added to the display on the courthouse lawn. Not only do they offer a bright spot of color, but, according to old folklore, when a cardinal or red bird appears, it is an angel visiting.

The pairs of shoes attached to the tree in the middle of the courthouse lawn represent the 20 Stephens County children who are in foster care.

To see more photos of the Child Welfare Board decorating the courthouse lawn, click here for the Breckenridge Texan photo gallery.

Members of the Stephens County Child Welfare Board recently put up a display on the courthouse lawn in honor of Child Abuse Awareness Month. Pictured, back row from left, are Sandy Broyles, Carla Barnes, Sharon Wimberley, Linda Burdic, Alva Carey, Fran Sikes and Jan Davis. Assisting the child welfare board members were, in front from left, Jhon Rios and Eric O’Dell. Not pictured are child welfare board members Linda Lippe, Ruth Taylor and Stephanee Russell. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Cutline, top photo: Stephens County Child Welfare Board Chair Sharon Wimberley installs a small white cross in the Child Abuse Awareness Month display in front of the courthouse. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)


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Announcement

BRUSH PICKUP The City of Breckenridge and Stephens County will be picking up brush with a woodchipper inside the corporate limits of Breckenridge the week of Oct. 18. Residents need to have brush that they would like chipped and hauled off at curbside by Friday, Oct. 15. For questions about the disposal, please call the City Offices at (254)559-8287.

CORNHOLE TOURNAMENT The Breckenridge Lions Club will host its second annual Scholarship Cornhole Tournament beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Trade Barn in the Breckenridge City Park. For more information click here.

ARTIST MEET-AND-GREET BRECKENRIDGE FINE ARTS CENTER The artistic quilts of Maynard Westlake are on exhibit at the Breckenridge Fine Arts Center through Nov. 2. The BFAC will host an artist meet-and-greet for Westlake from 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, at the BFAC, 207 N. Breckenridge Ave.

NATIONAL NIGHT OUT The Breckenridge Police Department will host a local National Night Out event from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 5, at the Law Enforcement Center, 210 E. Dyer St. National Night Out is an annual, national event that focuses on growing the partnership between law enforcement and the community in the fight against crime.

MEMORIAL BIKE RIDE The annual Sloan Everett Pure Country Pedal Memorial Bike Ride is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 16, at the Breckenridge City Park. The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. and will feature five routes. For more information, visit the Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce’s website.

COMMUNITY-WIDE SIDEWALK AND GARAGE SALE The Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce is looking for garage sales and sidewalk sales to add to its list for the annual event on Saturday, Oct. 9. For more information, call 254-559-2301.

CREATION VS EVOLUTION PRESENTATION International speaker and author Jay Seegert will give a presentation, Creation vs Evolution, at the National Theatre, sponsored by St. Andrew’s Anglican Church. The event will be at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, at the National Theater at 116 E. Walker St.

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