April 8, 2008 in City

Remembering foster kids

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Kathy Plonka photo

Kathleen Fairbanks plants pinwheels on Monday to represent foster children in North Idaho.
(Full-size photo)

The pinwheels planted Monday outside the Idaho State Department of Health and Welfare’s office in Coeur d’Alene added color and sparkle to a blustery, gray day.

The display features 300 pinwheels – one for each child and youth in foster care in North Idaho.

“I believe the actual figure is 360 children,” said Chris Ahlman, an associate professor in the social work program at Lewis-Clark State College, as she planted bundles along busy Ironwood Drive. “We chose foster kids because they often closely experience a lack of protection. We’d like to highlight our efforts to take care of them, too.”

Kathleen Fairbanks, a program specialist with children and family services, was planting, too.

“So far, this has been a great experience,” she said. “This is a great way to create awareness for what we are doing.”

The Child Abuse Prevention Committee, a subcommittee of the North Idaho Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, is coordinating Our Kids: Our Business in Coeur d’Alene.

“Some people recognize the pinwheels from last year and some are just seeing them for the first time,” said Hiedi Person, director of Court Appointed Special Advocates of North Idaho and the committee chairwoman. “The pinwheels have been planted everywhere around town since the kickoff at the Panhandle Health District.”

At the health district, 1,800 pinwheels were planted – one for every child abuse phone call the Health District received in 2007.

This year, Person said, the focus is on getting the word about child abuse prevention to businesses, including Project Safe Place, which identifies a business as a place where children can seek help if they experience abuse in their lives.

“Hopefully, as time goes on, it will get to a point where people see a pinwheel and they think of a healthy, happy child,” Person said.


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