Pinwheel Ceremony brings awareness to child abuse advocacy

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The James M. Barrie Center for Children, Inc. held its  annual Pinwheel Ceremony on Tuesday, April 9, 2024. The Pinwheel Ceremony highlights the services provided in 2023 and the collaborative work of the multi-disciplinary team including law enforcement, Department of Human Resources, Etowah County Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, FBI and Homeland Security.

Displayed at the Etowah County Courthouse are blue pinwheels planted in the ground, representing every child that was served in 2023.

In attendance was The Barrie Center Executive Director Patricia Falcon, her staff, the center’s facility dog named Kuzco, District Attorney Jody Willoughby, Honorable George Day, Honorable William Ogletree, Honorable Cody Robinson, Honorable Willis Clay, Honorable Joe Nabors and Etowah County Sheriff Jonathon Horton. Others in attendance included DHR employees, investigators from all municipalities and other special guests.

“As I reflect on this past year, I have seen the constant focus of our team and our board of directors to engage the community in recognizing that child abuse is a shared responsibility of our community,” Falcon said.

“It takes all of us working together to prevent and respond to abuse. This year our agency has embarked on a new strategic plan with a focus on our mission to promote hope, healing and justice for child victims as well as provide coordinated, trauma informed services and education in our community. Our vision is to be recognized as the premiere provider of comprehensive services for victims. Our values have not changed, they remain to be compassionate, child centered and collaborative services. Our board has focused on a plan to expand the Barrie Center and increase the services offered so that our capacity remains strong and our future is secure.”

Last year, The Barrie Center conducted 331 specialized forensic interviews and served an additional 261 secondary victims as well as over 600 trauma informed therapy sessions provided to children who have disclosed abuse. The services that The Barrie Center offer are unique in that they are offered free to children and families so that income capability will never hinder services for a traumatized child.

“It is an incredible privilege to be a part of the healing process for children,” Falcon said. “We are given the opportunity to hold their trauma and walk with them through healing.  Our children face so much trauma from unspeakable acts that they never asked to be a part of.”   

Kuzco, The Barrie Center facility dog, has also worked with 140 victims. During the ceremony, Kuzco was also honored with a Hometown Hero award by Modern Woodmen of America for his service to child victims.

The Barrie Center also offers free training in the community for businesses, schools, law enforcement, churches and any child serving agencies.  These range in topic from recognizing and responding to child abuse, mandatory reporting of abuse and services offered by the center.  Last year there were 28 trainings held to over 2,500 individuals.

The Barrie Center receives funding from ADECA, ANCAC, Children’s Trust Fund, Community Development Grants, United Way of Etowah County, Kiwanis Club, Gadsden Service Guild and fundraisers. They also depend heavily on community donations as well as their corporate sponsors which include Impact Realty, BMSS, Johnson’s Giant Food, Alabama Teacher’s Credit Union, TeamOne and Exchange Bank.

To learn more about The James M. Barrie Center for Children, please visit their website at barriecenter.org.

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