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Child abuse awareness
Members of Fremont County Public Health, the Department of Family Services, the Fremont County Commission and others gathered to plant blue pinwheels outside the courthouse April 10 in Lander in recognition of national child abuse prevention month. Photo by Martin Reed

County aims to prevent child abuse in April

Apr 15, 2012 - By Martin Reed, Staff Writer

Each one of the 100 blue pinwheels planted in a flower bed at the top of stairs outside the Fremont County Courthouse represented a new life.

They symbolized the first 100 births in Fremont County in 2012. And they represented reasons to ensure their safety and prosperity.

In recognition of national child abuse prevention month, the Fremont County Commission along with public health officials and others gathered on April 10 to raise awareness of the issue.

Public health nurse Jan Hubenka told commissioners the effort's importance involves the idea to "raise awareness that everyone is responsible in our state to report child abuse and neglect."

Hubenka and others are inviting the public to become more involved and educated in child abuse prevention month with an event from noon to 6 p.m. on Friday, April 20, at the Ace Hardware parking lot in Lander.

The Tailgating for Tots event sponsored by the Lander child protection teach will celebrate kids by providing safety events, informational booths, games, free snacks and more for families.

Hubenka told commissioners that participating agencies include the state Department of Family Services, Sensible Nutrition, public health, police and Fremont County Ambulance.

Commissioners on April 10 approved a proclamation recognizing the importance of child abuse prevention month.

"Empowering families and preventing child abuse requires the shared commitment of all individuals and organizations in Fremont County," the proclamation reads.

"All Wyoming citizens are responsible for reporting suspected child abuse or neglect. Child Protection Services within the Department of Family Services will confirm or rule out child abuse," according to the proclamation.

Visitors to the courthouse in Lander can notice many informational posters in the hallways that describe issues surrounding child abuse.

Hubenka noted a "neat surprise last night when I was here for a meeting," she told commissioners about seeing the posters that Lander Valley High School students arranged.

Following the meeting with commissioners, a group of 20 went outside to plant the pinwheels in the ground.

"By March 1st there was already 100 new babies born in Fremont County and we average about 500 or 600 a year," Hubenka said.

Commission chairman Doug Thompson emphasized the importance of a statement in the proclamation that read, "Helping children grow up safe and healthy is primarily the responsibility of the child's parents."

The effects that include a child's failure in education "is really a societal consequence of all this," Thompson said.

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