‘Pinwheels For Prevention’ Added At Pines Entry Gates

BERLIN — Those entering Ocean Pines’ north and south gates last week may have noticed something a little different – a pair of colorful pinwheel gardens.

Staff from the Berlin-based Cricket Center planted the gardens last month to help raise awareness for National Child Abuse Prevention Month and the “Pinwheels for Prevention” national campaign.

The Cricket Center is the only child advocacy center for sexually and physically abused children in Worcester County.

Cricket Center Executive Director Wendy Myers has planted pinwheel gardens in Worcester County since 2012. This is the first year that such a garden was planted at the Ocean Pines gates.

“The pinwheel is a symbol of child abuse prevention, and it just reminds us of the happy and carefree childhood that we want for all kids,” Myers said.

Myers said the center never closed and was able to continue supplying services each day, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. She said reports of abuse trended downward during that time, but those statistics are now sharply on the rise.

“The fact that kids were at home and not seeing professionals, certainly we saw a decrease in referrals from teachers and professionals who are mandated reporters, because the kids weren’t seeing these individuals,” she said. “Some of the abuse statistics lowered slightly, but now it’s certainly coming back and we’re seeing a huge increase in referrals, and in cases for physical and sexual abuse.”

Since it opened in 2009, Myers said the center has served more than 1,500 victims of child abuse.

“That’s a lot, especially when you consider the number of children in our county,” she said.

To help fight child physical and sexual abuse, Myers encouraged local people to visit www.thecricketcenter.com.

“There’s a wealth of resources there for people to educate themselves and the people around them about prevention. Knowing the signs and symptoms of when a child is experiencing trauma and how to react responsibly is just really important,” she said.

Pinwheel gardens at Ocean Pines’ north and south gates will stay up through the end of the month.

“Ocean Pines is proud to support this worthy cause, and we hope it helps raise awareness for Child Abuse Prevention Month,” Ocean Pines General Manager John Viola said.