The Leesburg town green is decked out with pinwheels as of Tuesday afternoon—a visual commemoration and reminder for Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month in April.
The Leesburg Town Council on Tuesday passed proclamations recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month, following a brief ceremony with Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter staff by the pinwheel display.
“This is a critical time for us to just be aware that there is a need in our community to continue to be hyper-vigilant and cognizant of the fact that children in our community do continue to be harmed every day,” said LAWS interim Executive Director Samantha Clarke. “And we have to maintain a constant awareness of our responsibility. As community members, we have a shared responsibility—across roles, across agencies, across communities, across neighborhoods—to protect our children. And so that’s why we’re all here.”
Last year, she said, LAWS served more than 210 children with advocacy and therapy services, and sheltered more than 100 children from domestic violence. And the pinwheels now spinning on the town green, she said, represent what childhood should be—happy, healthy, safe and carefree.
She also highlighted the work of the Loudoun Child Advocacy Center, a program of LAWS. Among other services, the center offers a neutral forensic interviewer who knows how to talk to a child, said CAC interim Director Esmeralda Ortiz.
“We also provide advocacy services so that that child and their family are able to have an advocate alongside them throughout the investigation, and that is huge, because investigations are intimidating for adults, so imagine for a child,” she said. “We want to make sure that every child that is in need of need of services, is able to access them through the CAC and through LAWS.
Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk read one of the resolutions set to be passed that night, and thanked the LAWS and CAC staff present for their work. The Loudoun Board of Supervisors also passed resolutions recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month at its meeting April 5, and is expected to present that resolution to LAWS on April 19.
Those proclamations, too, emphasize the shared responsibility for all people, professionals and organizations residents to raise awareness about sexual violence, protect one another, support victims, and bring perpetrators to justice.
“We must work together to inform members of our community about sexual violence prevention, support survivors, and speak out against harmful attitudes and actions. We join advocates and communities across Loudoun County, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the country in playing an active role to prevent sexual violence,” the Leesburg Sexual Assault Awareness Month proclamation reads.