Breckenridge Texan

Display at Stephens County Courthouse honors foster children and victims of child abuse, neglect

Display at Stephens County Courthouse honors foster children and victims of child abuse, neglect
April 11
09:18 2022

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

There is a special meaning behind each of the items in the Child Abuse Awareness Month display on the Stephens County Courthouse lawn this month.

Alva Carey puts out yellow silk sunflowers to represent the children of Ukraine. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

The installation, put up by members of the Stephens County Child Welfare Board, pays tribute to children who have been abused in Stephens County, as well as in Texas. 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’s display includes yellow silk sunflowers to represent the children of Ukraine who are suffering from the war there.

The white crosses on the lawn represent the children who died in 2021 as the result of abuse or neglect.

“These children died from abuse and neglect at the hands of parents, guardians and other adults in their families,” Stephens County Child Welfare Board Chair Sharon Wimberley said at a March County Commissioners meeting. “Most of the children were under the age of 3 years and were little boys.”

In addition to the crosses, the display also includes

  • Pairs of shoes attached to the tree in the middle of the courthouse lawn to represent the Stephens County children who are in foster care.
  • Pinwheels, which, according to the organization Prevent Child Abuse America, 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.”
  • Tiny red birds that offer a bright spot of color, and, according to old folklore, when a cardinal or red bird appears, it is an angel visiting.
  • Bells and gold stars to honor the children who have died.
  • Blue ribbons, the symbol used by organizations trying to prevent abuse.
  • Yellow sunflowers for the children of Ukraine.

Additionally, the courthouse is lit with blue lights at night, and solar lights shine on the display.

On March 14, Stephens County Judge Michael Roach and the County Commissioners declared April 2022 to be Child Abuse Awareness Month in Stephens County and gave the Child Welfare Board members permission to decorate the courthouse lawn in memory of the children who have died from abuse and in honor of local children who are in foster care.

A couple of weeks later, the Child Welfare Board gathered to install the display. Working on the display were Stephens County Child Welfare Board Chair Sharon Wimberley and members Alva Carey, Jan Davis, Carla Barnes,  Linda Lippe, Ruth Taylor, Stephanee Russell and Linda Burdic. Member Fran Sikes couldn’t attend the event. Helping out were county employee Donald Spray and JulieAnn Greenfield, who is the faith-based and community engagement specialist for Region 2 of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Click here to see the Breckenridge Texan Photo Gallery of the event.

Greenfield, who serves Region 2’s 29 counties, ranging from Paducah to Bowie and from Colorado City to Comanche, said that from February 2020 to February 2021, there were 22 Stephens County children in foster care, and from February 2021 to February 2022, there were 21 Stephens County children in foster care. In 2021, Region 2 had 2,752 children who were found to be the victims of child abuse and neglect.

Every year, the Child Welfare Board encourages local churches to participate in Blue Sunday, a day dedicated to victims of child abuse. April 24 will be Blue Sunday this year.

Additionally, the Child Welfare Board will have a candlelight ceremony at the courthouse later in the month.

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, from left, are Linda Lippe, Sharon Wimberley, Carla Barnes, Stephanee Russell, Jan Davis, Linda Burdic, JulieAnn Greenfield, Alva Carey and Ruth Taylor. Not pictured is Child Welfare Board member Fran Sikes. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Cutline, top photo: Child Welfare Board member Jan Davis is surrounded by white crosses and blue and silver pinwheels as she puts out crosses to represent the children who have died from child abuse and neglect. The display will be on the Stephens County Courthouse lawn throughout April, which is Child Abuse Awareness Month. Click here to see the Breckenridge Texan’s Photo Gallery. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

 


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