CAMP ZAMA, Japan (March 29, 2019) -- Tina Salas, a military spouse at Camp Zama, made a distinct point of stopping by the Plant a Pinwheel for Child Abuse Awareness Month event at Army Community Service here March 27.

"(Child abuse) happens a lot, and a lot of people don't even know about it," Salas said. "You can see a kid who seems extremely happy at school but dreads going home, so having an awareness event like this is perfect and we need it more often."

Throughout the five-hour occasion, members of the community stopped by to plant a pinwheel for child abuse awareness in the ACS lawn; listen to musicians from the U.S. Army Japan Band perform; sit on blankets underneath blooming cherry trees; and play games. April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, and U.S. Army Garrison Japan ACS held the event to kick off the month and announce other events.

Col. Phillip Gage, commander of USAG Japan, and USAG Japan Command Sgt. Maj. Billy Norman attended to sign the month's proclamation, which calls upon all citizens to increase their efforts to support families and prevent child abuse.

After school, the Camp Zama Child Development Center brought a busload of children, and they added another 20 or so blue pinwheels to the large array already on the lawn.
In 2008, Prevent Child Abuse America introduced the pinwheel as the national symbol for child abuse prevention, said Stan Austin, the Family Advocacy Program manager at ACS. The pinwheel is a symbol of hope for the great childhoods everyone wants for children, he said.

ACS plans to have tables with child abuse prevention information at the Camp Zama Exchange throughout the month, as well as several events, Austin said.

ACS will hold Child Abuse Prevention Month Troop Training from 1 to 3 p.m. April 11 and from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. April 12 at the Community Recreation Center, Austin said, and members of the community who aren't in the military are welcome to attend.

In addition, ACS will hold a "Bowl With the Bunny" event from 5 to 7 p.m. April 17 at the Camp Zama Bowling Center, Austin said, and that event will also include an informational table.

A "Hands are Not for Hurting" event will be at 1 p.m. April 24 at ACS, Building 402, Austin said. The workshop will feature parents and children making handprint molds in support of Child Abuse Prevention Month.

"Hands are for loving. Hands are for praising. Hands are for memories, but hands are not for hurting," Austin said. "So we have hands for picture frames as well as hands for plaster, hands for parents to put up for memories for their family."

The occasion also featured an ACS open house, and Ciara Luna, ACS director, said the organization has a variety of services and life-skills classes that range from financial counseling and retirement planning to advocating for domestic violence victims and helping people with the Exceptional Family Member Program.

"We do just about everything that is meant to support life skills development and, ultimately, Soldier and family readiness," Luna said. "So really, everything that we do is really based on helping people get the skills that they require to not need us anymore and be successful in their personal lives."

ACS also offers services that can help with child abuse prevention, Luna said, and those include parenting classes and playgroups.

"We provide a lot of that kind of support that people would get normally at home, but in a place like Japan we're far away from home and it's not as easy to call mom for advice, right? So that's where we come in," Luna said.

For more information, contact USAG Japan ACS at DSN (315) 263-4357 or 011-81-46-407-4357 from overseas, or stop by Building 402 on Camp Zama.