After being a teacher and becoming a mother, I thought about my high school students and how I would have liked to have reached them earlier to teach them about personal safety. I wanted to work with younger kids, then younger, and then thought I’d really like to train parents. I set out to write my own curriculum called SPARK Seminars, “Savvy Parents and Resourceful Kids.” I wanted to work with parents for several reasons: First, from birth, parents are making all kinds of decisions that will affect their child’s safety—choosing a babysitter or a day care provider would be prime examples. Parents or guardians should always be a child’s most powerful safety advocate, and I wanted to help them develop that knowledge. Second, children themselves can be taught ideas about bodily autonomy from a very young age. Third, I could teach parents concepts a lot in two hours that they could then apply to their families over time. I thought that by working with parents I could take a “give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish, he (and his family!) will eat for a lifetime” approach.

I eventually did want to teach kids as well, and that required a whole different kind of curriculum. I knew I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel, and that I knew about Kidpower training from my time living in the Bay Area. I looked at many programs but Kidpower was head and shoulders the best in my professional opinion. Kidpower training is effective, positive, success-based, accurate, and designed to not scare kids. It was a bit ironic that I lived 45 miles from the Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International headquarters in Santa Cruz for a decade before I got involved with the organization, I thought as I boarded a plane to fly across the country for Kidpower Instructor Training, but it is worth it!

How has working with Kidpower shaped me?

Kidpower training is so powerful. It has shaped my view on life and has given me so many practical tools for raising my kid and for shaping healthy relationships. I had previously taken another self-defense class that was about what to do when faced with a physical attack, but it didn’t make me feel any more confident in my everyday life. Kidpower training made me feel prepared for an emergency, helped me avoid a bad situation as it developed, and gave me lots of skills for communication and relationship-building. It turns out that the skills that work for kids work for adults, too. Kidpower is very proud to offer customized training that address the needs of people of all ages, abilities, and walks of life.

In 2008 I brought Kidpower training to my new home state, establishing the Kidpower North Carolina training center. Now celebrating 10 years of serving North Carolina, the Center is expanding services throughout the state under the visionary leadership of Center Director Maryjane Hayes.

From the first time I met Kidpower’s Founder and Executive Director Irene van der Zande, I developed a “bucket list” goal of writing a book with her, which has been realized in our new co-authored book, “Doing Right by Our Kids—Protecting Child Safety at All Levels.” You’ll hear a lot more about that as we launch our new book in late summer 2018.