York Country Day Middle School Choir member Margot Schaumann, eighth-grade, sings with her group during the York County Children’s Advocacy Center
York Country Day Middle School Choir member Margot Schaumann, eighth-grade, sings with her group during the York County Children's Advocacy Center dedication for the center's "pinwheel garden" near York Hospital Tuesday. It is the fourth year for the garden designed to raise awareness during Child Abuse Prevention Month. BILL KALINA - bkalina@yorkdispatch.com

Rick Azzaro told a story of a little boy who was abused.

The child became non-verbal and was so traumatized he did not speak for six months, he said.

But collaboration is everything when you're tackling the enormous issue of child abuse, said Azzaro, chief services officer of YWCA York.

It was a challenging journey to healing, but several workers in the county got involved in giving a voice to the child, who is now happy and loves to pretend he's a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, he said.

"This little boy — now, we can't keep him quiet," Azzaro said.

All the branches of child abuse work in the county were highlighted Tuesday at the unveiling of this year's Pinwheel Garden. The garden is across from York Hospital, where travelers can see it at the busy corner of George Street and Rathton Road.

York Country Day Middle School Choir member Abbi Tarburton, eighth-grade, right, holds a pinwheel during the York County Children’s Advocacy Center
York Country Day Middle School Choir member Abbi Tarburton, eighth-grade, right, holds a pinwheel during the York County Children's Advocacy Center dedication for the center's "pinwheel garden" near York Hospital Tuesday. The choir sang during the ceremony. It is the fourth year for the garden designed to raise awareness during Child Abuse Prevention Month. BILL KALINA - bkalina@yorkdispatch.com

Law enforcement officers, medical personnel, prosecutors, advocates and child-victim interviewers are all focused on the same mission: serving justice and reclaiming the lives of these children, he said.

Pinwheels: The 1,275 pinwheels planted by the York County Children's Advocacy Center represent the number of suspected victims of child abuse in York County in 2012. Last year's numbers will be released later this month.

When York City Police Chief Wes Kahley looks at the pinwheels, he thinks of what they represent.

Some are moving and some aren't — they're all different colors and represent the many different backgrounds of children. The garden represents children of all races, religions and communities who have undergone abuse, he said.


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"It's great that something like this calls attention to what's going on," he said.

The garden will stay up throughout April, which is Child Abuse Prevention Month. At the unveiling, York City Mayor Kim Bracey read a proclamation formally declaring April 2014 Child Abuse Prevention Month in York City and York County.

Music: Although it was the fourth year the pinwheel garden has been placed, it was the first time there was live music during the somber ceremony, said Deborah Harrison, executive director of the advocacy center.

"It's a serious issue, but we need to celebrate, too," she said. "We really want to celebrate happy, healthy kids."

York Country Day School's middle school choir performed at the unveiling. Students in grades 6 through 8 held pinwheels while singing "Takadamu," which means "lead the way" in Swahili.

Raising awareness about issues like child abuse is part of the global education of a child, said Rachel Snyder, director of performing arts at the school.

"I think it's important for students this age to be educated and be aware. ... If there's no education about serious events, then there's no prevention," she said.

— Reach Mollie Durkin at mdurkin@yorkdispatch.com.