Pinwheel garden planted in Detroit for Child Abuse Prevention Month

A local mom, whose son was the victim of child abuse, joined volunteers to plant a pinwheel garden outside Children’s Hospital of Michigan on Monday. The garden of pinwheels is a symbol of awareness and prevention of child abuse.

"Hope really takes you a long way," said Erica Hammel-McLaughlin of St. Clair Shores, the mother of 11-year-old Wyatt Rewoldt and a child abuse prevention advocate.

And hope is what is represented by the blue and silver pinwheels outside the hospital in Detroit.

"We want to raise children who don’t have to recover from their childhood, and these pinwheels just represent any child, any family that's been affected by abuse," Hammel-McLaughlin said.

That includes Hammel-McLaughlin's own son, who was abused by her ex-husband’s girlfriend in Nov. 2013. 

Wyatt recently celebrated 10 years since he visited Children’s Hospital for "breathing issues" that turned out to be a severe brain hemorrhage. On the anniversary, he donated 100 care packages to children who are going through a hard time while visiting the hospital's emergency room.

"Wyatt almost didn't make it, but he did," Hammel-McLaughlin said. "With the support of Children’s (Hospital), and obviously lots of love, he’s made it over 10 years, and he’s doing great."

At the time of the incident, Wyatt suffered a fractured skull, bilateral retinal hemorrhages, broken ribs, and torn gums, Hammel-McLaughlin said. Doctors diagnosed Wyatt with Shaken Baby Syndrome. He still bears the marks of child abuse years later. 


11-year-old abuse survivor celebrates 10 years, donates 100 care packages

An 11-year-old abuse survivor is giving back to Children's Hospital of Michigan for saving his life 10 years ago.

That is why his mother continues to fight for child abuse awareness.

"His fight gave me fight," she said.

Hammel-Mclaughlin spent nearly a decade advocating for Wyatt’s Law in Michigan – to make it easier for parents to find out if someone around their child has a history of abuse.

"I had suspicions about who my ex was dating, and I had gone to and asked the department, I did everything I could to try and figure out a background on this woman, and I couldn't find out anything," Hammel-McLaughlin said.

In 2022, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the package of bills, creating an electronic case management system that the public and others can use to track confirmed cases of those who have abused or neglected children. 

With April being Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month, Wyatt's mother, who now works to end child abuse through her job at Care House of Macomb County, wants the public to know that "child abuse is 100% preventable," she said.

Doctors say raising awareness about child abuse is critical, but what you do with that awareness can help save a child’s life.

"Really being an advocate for the child that you’re worried about, it can really go to any level. But of course, here at the hospital, we’re always willing to evaluate that. We're specialist in knowing which questions to ask," said Dr Kevin Dazy, a pediatric Hospitalist at Children’s Hospital of Michigan.

Hammel-McLaughlin's hope has allowed her to move forward. She is expecting another baby in the summer; Wyatt will soon have a baby brother. 

"The pinwheel represents a childhood… just something beautiful, whimsical, and how every child has a right to that," Hammel-McLaughlin said.