I spent quite a bit of my day Thursday at the DeKalb County Courthouse in downtown Sycamore. My first assignment there was covering Hands Around the Courthouse, an event organized by the Family Service Agency, the Children’s Advocacy Center of DeKalb County, and Safe Passage.
Visually, it was not a simulating event. It was much too windy to be held outside and the indoor gathering looked much like a regular assembly. But it was was incredibly informative about how the child well-being agencies in the county work together in every facet of a child abuse case, from parenting classes to remedial therapy for the children.
When I arrived at the event, they were passing out blue ribbons, the color I was told denoted child abuse awareness. I asked why the ribbons were blue, the story behind why the cause used the color blue and no one really knew. Every cause nowadays uses a different color to champion their efforts, and there’s usually a story behind the color. I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about it until I found out for myself.
After the hands event, I went to cover a hearing in the Northern Illinois University hazing cases, which lead me outside to the front steps of the courthouse to wait for the defendants and their attorneys to leave to get noncourtroom photos of them. Again, the blue color, pinwheels this time, lined the walk leading up to the courthouse. With how sunny and windy the day had become, the pinwheels were reflecting the sunlight as they danced back and forth with the wind. After I had my pictures of the day’s events, I retreated to the office and started researching the importance of the blue color and why pinwheels were used for child abuse awareness.
Turns out, the Blue Ribbon Campaign is not a new story. The actual campaign was started by a woman from Virginia named Bonnie Finney, who in the spring of 1989 tied a single blue ribbon to the antenna on her car in memory of her 3-year-old grandson Michael Bubba Dickinson.
Finney wanted people who saw the ribbon to approach her and ask why she had that ribbon on her car. The blue color of the ribbon was to symbolize the bruises both Michael and his 16-month-old sister, who survived the abuse, endured.
The use of pinwheels denotes the innocence of childhood. The reflective parts of the pinwheel are used as imagery for the bright futures all children deserve, according to Prevent Child Abuse America and their “Pinwheels for Prevention” campaign.
So as the month of April comes to a close, and no doubt May brings a month of new causes, the Blue Ribbon Campaign shows how one person, one story, can create a movement and hopefully a change for the better.
• Picture This is an occasional column showcasing photographs by Daily Chronicle photographers. You can reach Photo Editor Danielle Guerra at firstname.lastname@example.org or 815-756-4841 ext. 2265. You can follow her on Twitter @ddcguerra.