KEARNEY — Experiencing abuse, neglect and related trauma in childhood can lead to adverse outcomes in adulthood including low self-esteem and lack of self-worth, which can lead to risky sexual behaviors and substance abuse. For those who do not receive help, these adverse outcomes can lead to dire consequences like suicide, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
Determined to turn her traumatic story of childhood sexual abuse into triumph, LindaRose Kaizen is using her love of quilting and other art to help and inspire others and herself. She began the Pinwheel Heart Project to raise awareness and support for child abuse survivors. The project combines quilting fabric and a pinwheel, the national symbol for childhood abuse prevention.
“Along the way of my journey, I created a quilt. As part of that quilt, I decided that I deserved a medal. Then I thought, ‘Every childhood abuse survivor deserved a medal.’ So, I created what I call the Pinwheel Heart Medal of Honor. It has a blue pinwheel in the center and says ‘medal of honor’ because I, like many abuse survivors, deal a lot with self-worth issues, shame issues and those kinds of things. It says ‘thriver’ instead of just ‘survivor’ because I’ve always strived to be more than a survivor. I want to thrive,” she said.
As the quilt has helped her healing process, Kaizen said she wanted to use it to help others and started a Facebook page for the Pinwheel Heart Project to spread the word and is now working with online retailer Spoonflower to sell Pinwheel Heart fabric panels to others.
“There’s fabric for breast cancer awareness, there’s fabric for Autism awareness. I tried to talk some fabric companies into supporting childhood abuse survivors but was never able to get it out in the world. With a company like Spoonflower, they work with designers to produce fabric so I decided to work with them to produce a panel based on the pinwheel heart that people will soon be able to buy,” she said. “People can then make their own pinwheel heart quilts.”
Kaizen also started a remembrance tree as part of the annual Kearney Mayor’s Christmas Tree Walk in Jesse James Park. Last Christmas, after talking with insurance agent Bob Delano about how he wanted community involvement in decorating his American Family Insurance tree along the walk, Kaizen said she got the idea for a remembrance tree. It serves as a way people can cope with feelings of loss the holidays sometimes bring to those grieving.
The walk features decorated trees off Missouri Highway 33 north of downtown. Trees can remain decorated for viewing until Jan. 13.
“He said he wanted people to put ornaments on the tree because he liked that. I told him I didn’t think that would work with his business tree, but we could make it bigger. It was his idea that started the thing and we got a tree and began letting people put ornaments in memory on it,” she said.
Kaizen said it takes a lot for survivors to understand they are not alone and she wants to use her love of quilting, which has been a therapy for her, and her other community outreach efforts to let others know they are not alone.
“I do still have stuff, there’s not many abuse survivors that don’t. I have post-traumatic stress disorder,” she said. “... I want what I am doing to be a way to help. It has the potential to help them know they matter.”