Like a spinning pinwheel, a child suffering abuse may be stuck in place, head awhirl, dependent on outside forces for action.

Intervention may be up to adults outside the child’s family, activist Shana Thornton said.

“We have to speak up. We have to give a voice to it, because our children are often voiceless,” she said about reporting abuse or suspected abuse. “They need someone to speak up for them and to take action.”

Thornton spoke March 30 at the annual Paint Henry Blue kickoff to April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

At the event at Merle Manders Conference Center in Stockbridge, blue pinwheels symbolized hope, well-being and safety.

Attendees raised the plastic toys in solidarity as nonprofit Prevent Child Abuse Henry County board member Lyric Schwadron sang Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb.”

Its message of overcoming struggles resonated with speakers like child abuse victims Lt. Kevin McNeil and Bianca Johnston.

“You must understand first, what is child abuse?” Johnston said. “It comes in many forms that are not always typical. It can be emotional or verbal. It can make you feel neglected, unappreciated, unloved.

“But most of all, it can make you feel worthless.”

At 22, Johnston now interns at A Friend’s House in McDonough, a home for abused, neglected and abandoned children.

The home is the beneficiary of the April 21 Taste of Henry at Heritage Park in McDonough.

Susan Crutchfield, who serves with Schwadron on the nonprofit board, said attending the tasting event is an action step against child abuse.

Residents can also wear blue all month or post photos of blue ribbons and pinwheel gardens using the hashtag #painthenryblue.

“Keep the conversation going,” she said.

Another photo opportunity awaits at the Cochran Library in Stockbridge, where a bicycle and tricycle have been “yarn bombed” in blue.

“Yarn bombing is a form of guerilla art, like graffiti,” Lisa Fareed-Muhammad, Main Street Stockbridge program assistant, said about the display at the event. “It’ll be in front of the library for the entire month of April.”

Stockbridge Mayor Judy Neal and Henry County Manager Cheri Hobson-Matthews also voiced the support of the county and its four cities.

Each read a proclamation encouraging residents to make a positive difference in the lives of children.

Information: painthenryblue@gmail.com

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