SAGAMIHARA FAMILY HOUSING AREA, Japan (April 14, 2021) – The toddlers who participated in the superhero parade at the Child Development Center here April 9 had so much fun, they walked the route twice.
In all, about 60 children ages 6 months to 6 years participated in the parade and a pinwheel planting in honor of the Month of the Military Child and National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, said Audrey Daugherty, the center’s director.
The children wore capes and carried blue pinwheels, and Marissa Ayag-Garcia, manager of the Army Community Service Family Advocacy Program; Sari Sugai, manager of the ACS Exceptional Family Member Program; Darren Powell, ACS FAP specialist; and Lucinda Ward, ACS specialist, dressed in superhero costumes and helped staff members.
Prevent Child Abuse America, a nonprofit organization, introduced the “Pinwheels for Prevention” campaign in 2008, and since then, child advocates throughout the United States have organized blue pinwheel plantings during April to raise awareness about child abuse.
Camp Zama’s ACS officials have organized three pinwheel plantings in April, including the one April 9, and the next one will be April 23 at 10 a.m. at the SFHA Library.
Ayag-Garcia said she wants everyone to band together and commit to the protection of children.
“As neighbors and family members, I’m encouraging folks to just check-in,” Ayag-Garcia said. “[Ask,] ‘Are you OK? What do you need? What can I do to help you?’ Because we are a very strong and well-bonded community and we have the resources here.”
Daugherty said that as military-affiliated children, the children who participated in the parade really are superheroes.
“April is recognized as the Month of the Military Child, and these children go through a lot and they are truly, truly heroes,” Daugherty said. “We recognize our young heroes.”
In addition, Daugherty said it is important to recognize that child abuse does exist and we can all help prevent it.
“Community awareness is very important,” Daugherty said. “Community involvement is very important. Children are the future and they are precious, precious, children, so we need to protect them.”
ACS has several resources available to help parents and increase community awareness, Ayag-Garcia said.
For example, upcoming parenting classes offered through the Camp Zama ACS Facebook page include “Nurturing Techniques” on April 20; “Conflict Resolution” on May 13; “Learn How to Keep Your Baby Safe” on May 25; and “Emotional Intelligence in Parenting” on May 27, according to the ACS website.
To learn more about resources available at Camp Zama’s ACS, visit https://zama.armymwr.com/programs/army-community-service-1, or call at (DSN) 315-263-4357 or (COMM) 046-407-4357.