By By Julia LeDoux, Pentagram Staff WriterApril 5, 2013
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Commander Col. Fern O. Sumpter, was mugged with hugs from eager children the morning of April 3 as she marked the beginning of Child Abuse Prevention Month with a pinwheel parade.
Sumpter was joined by members of the JBM-HH command team, as well as Cody Child Development Center children, staff members, parents and the JBM-HH Family Advocacy Program at the second annual Pinwheels for Prevention parade.
"The pinwheel parade is because this is the month of the military child," explained Sumpter, who said she and Command Sgt. Maj. Earlene Y. Lavender "take child care very, very seriously."
Marines from Headquarters and Service Battalion Henderson Hall also showed their support this week by planting a pinwheel garden near the Maj. Douglas A. Zembiec pool.
The Pinwheels for Prevention campaign was launched in 2008 as a national campaign using the blue and silver pinwheel as its symbol. It seeks to raise awareness and prevent the abuse and neglect of the nation's children.
"The purpose of [the] event is to kick-off Child Abuse Prevention Month as well as the month of the military child," explained Kelly Smith, JBM-HH Family advocacy program manager. "We really wanted to bring awareness to the community, to really allow our Families to see that in April we celebrate our children."
Molly Ryan, Marine and Family Programs education and prevention specialist echoed Smith's support of military children.
"The pinwheel planting is a visual reminder it's our responsibility to protect those who are too young to protect themselves," Ryan said.
Sgt. 1st Class Crystal Satarian, Staff Sgt. Sofia Hailu and Staff Sgt. Brian Barnhart with the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Fife and Drum Corps led dozens of children and adults as they paraded around Cody's grounds and inside the center itself carrying pinwheels, which spun merrily.
"The hope is that people take away from the event - number one - for our children to know that we appreciate them and that keeping them safe is our priority," said Smith. "For our parents and our Soldiers, it's to let them know that it's our responsibility to protect our children and to let other adults know that child abuse is not acceptable."