The third Pinwheels for Prevention in the Park event, which marks the beginning of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, will begin this Sunday and run for two weeks in Manhasset and Port Washington.
The event, which includes placing 748 blue pinwheels at Blumenfeld Family Park in Port Washington and Mary Jane Davies Green in Manhasset, will be held by Kyra’s Champions, the child safety advocacy group founded by Manhasset resident Jacqueline Franchetti whose daughter was killed by her father.
“This event is about much more than pinwheels – it is about a court system that has harmed our community for decades and how we are working together to make changes,” Franchetti said in a statement to Blank Slate Media.
On July 27, 2016, 2-year-old Kyra Franchetti’s father shot her twice in the back while she was sleeping at his Fairfax, Va., home on an unsupervised, court-sanctioned visit. He then set the house on fire and shot himself to death.
Kyra’s ninth birthday would have been on April 4 and the additional significance for the two parks Sunday comes from where she liked to play, Franchetti said.
“It’s about students, parents, citizens, and politicians who have come together to put pinwheels on their lawns, send emails to lawmakers, who show up at our rallies and advocacy days,” Franchetti said.
The 748 pinwheels honor 23 children, who like Kyra were murdered by a parent during a child custody case, divorce or separation since 2016 and the 725 deaths of New York children in the last decade who were kept hidden by Child Protection Services, according to the Albany Times Union.
Shayna Blumenfeld, a Kyra’s Champions Youth Ambassador who is co-running the event, said the event brings the entire community together for a common cause.
“This is an event that is FOR kids, and BY kids. We can’t see our peers getting hurt, so we are taking a stand,” Blumenfeld said in a statement. “The pinwheel events raise awareness and bring our community together to truly stand up for what is right.”
Franchetti’s advocacy has led to legislative action. There are currently seven total bills inspired by Kyra’s death introduced in the New York State Legislature that take aim at protecting children from abusive parents.
The bills, with the centerpiece of Kyra’s Law, make child safety the top priority in Family Court, increase judicial training on family violence and eliminate the use of forensic evaluators.
North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena said the event is a great way to raise awareness.
North Hempstead Council Member Veronica Lurvey said the legislation is a “game changer” for protecting children.
“Every year, we recognize Kyra’s memory, and take part in a greater campaign to protect our children as part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month. I encourage everyone to visit kyraschampions.org to learn more about this important organization and how you can get involved. Most importantly, there is a link on their website that will allow you to advocate for Kyra’s Law with the New York State Legislature,” Lurvey said in a statement to Blank Slate Media. “This piece of legislation is truly a game changer in terms of protecting children from a parent who intends to harm them. There are also some incredibly important statistics displayed on the website that detail how immense and pervasive this problem truly is. Our hearts go out to Jacqueline and her family, and we certainly wish her the best of luck as she works tirelessly for Kyra’s Champions and children and families across our country.”
Franchetti also thanked Print Station N.Y. located in New Hyde Park for its continued generosity and support in donating the signs for both parks all three years.
“Champions from our community, and all around the state and nation, have come together to make changes in Kyra’s memory and in the memories of far too many children who were murdered by an abusive parent,” Franchetti said.