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Pinwheels focus attention on child abuse prevention

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TAYLORSVILLE — With a cold wind whipping through the parking lot of the Taylorsville City Hall Saturday, the rows of shiny blue pinwheels at the entrance spun mightily to send a message against child abuse.

"It's a hard subject to bring up," Tiffany Kuntz of South Jordan said as her daughter, Keeley, 7, and mother, Linda Walters, admired the family's efforts to help place some 600 pinwheels to mark April as child abuse prevention month.

Cuddling daughter Kylie, 4, in her arms against the cold, Kuntz said she hoped spending the cold morning on the activity would help her daughters feel comfortable coming to her with any concerns.

"I'm trying to teach about it in a non-scary way," Kuntz said of the need for her daughters to understand abuse can happen. "It's a family thing because we all did it together. It's not a secret."

Taylorsville resident Kim Passey, a retired Salt Lake County Fire Department paramedic who now works for the state Fire Marshal's office, was among the volunteers who managed to get all the pinwheels in place quickly.

"I was a paramedic for 20 years, so I saw 20 years of abuse. I'm glad we can do something to make the public aware of what's going on," Passey said. The pinwheels, he said, attract attention and make people think about the issue.

That's the idea behind using a child's toy as a symbol of the effort to prevent child abuse, said Renee Sorensen of the Taylorsville Exchange Club, the sponsor of the display that will stay up through April.

"The pinwheel represents all of those things in childhood, the good things," Sorensen said. "It's what every child deserves."

The campaign can have more impact than, for example, simply confronting adults about their parenting skills, she said, because just offering advice can make someone defensive.

"But when I have a handful of pinwheels, I can say exactly the same thing to them and they have a smile on their face," Sorensen said. "For me, I never lose the excitement of driving by and seeing the pinwheels."

Three-year-old Jessica Janzen explained that she and her parents were "just planting" the pinwheels. Asked if she enjoyed sticking the toys into the ground, she said she was really looking forward to "grabbing them when they're done."

Email: lisa@deseretnews.com, Twitter: DNewsPolitics