During 2017 more than 1,900 children were verified victims of child abuse, neglect, and abandonment in Circuit 5 -– Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion and Sumter counties.

Typically, child abuse and domestic violence occur behind closed doors making it a social ill difficult to readily identify, according to a news release from Kids Central.

During the month of April, child advocates rally to raise awareness and increase child abuse prevention efforts in the community.

A shining, spinning pinwheel is a classic symbol of childhood. Together, Kids Central and several community partners, including The Centers, Childhood Development Services, Department of Children and Families, Devereux, Kimberly’s Center, and the Florida Department of Health-Marion County come together to raise awareness of child abuse and the ways to prevent it.

“Kids Central is committed to preventing child abuse before it occurs,” Debra Wise-Velez, Kids Central deputy chief of programs said, “which is why we have designed a comprehensive strategy with collaborative partners to prevent child abuse all year long.

“The month of April is dedicated to child abuse prevention. Side by side, local community members and leaders will plant pinwheels throughout Marion County. The blue and silver pinwheel has become a national symbol for child abuse prevention; this is a reminder of happy childhoods and bright futures that all children deserve, as well as the important role we each play in ensuring every child has an equal opportunity for healthy growth and development.”

With the help of gracious sponsors, 1,000s of pinwheels will spin on display for Citrus County to observe and connect to the efforts focused on awareness and prevention. There are Pinwheel Gardens available for sponsorship. Organizations can contact Jessica Gilbert at 352-387-3474 or Jessica.Gilbert@kidscentralinc.org for more information on how to sponsor a garden.

Citrus County also will be hosting a Resource Fair at the College of Central Florida in Lecanto on April 19 at 5 p.m. The YMCA will be hosting a Healthy Kids Day at 1300 Mariner Blvd. in Spring Hill on April 21 at 9 a.m. Crystal Harley Davidson will present its annual Pinwheel Run on April 22 at 11 a.m.

For more information on these events or child abuse in the area, visit EndKidsTears.com.