radKIDS® classes help remove fear for parents, children

Can your children tell a good touch from a bad one? Do they know to tell a trusted adult if they are being harmed? How to dial 9-1-1?

Now they will.

Carle Foundation Hospital invested $15,000 in Rape Advocacy, Counseling, Education Services (RACES) to educate instructors in the community who can teach children about inappropriate touch, how to defend themselves and talking to a trusted adult through the radKIDS® program. 

Carle’s Community Health Needs Assessment identified violence as a pressing issue and funding RACES helps address unmet needs.

Not your typical pencil and paper approach, participants complete hands-on training.

Adelaide Aime, MSW, LCSW, executive director of RACES, said “building strong foundations with younger kids will help transition to more robust programming at the middle school level.”

Following the 40-hour training, 20 key child safety advocates in Champaign and Piatt counties will reach as many people as they can to help reduce sexual violence toward children.

Tegan Stynoski, RN, BSN, CEN SANE-A, Carle Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence coordinator, is a RACES collaborator. She cares for patients who survive violent crimes.

“My commitment and passion for nursing and our community creates an instinctual response to help prevent more people from getting hurt in the same way,” she said.

Teaching safety from the child’s perspective is a program strength.

radKIDS® founder and executive director Steve Daley said fun, activity-based program teaches safety drills and physical skills to resist or stop violence or harm.

In 17 years since the program launched, none of the kids in who has gone through the program has been abducted. Of the 300,000 students trained in 48 states, almost 200 saved themselves from attempted abductions.  

The program focuses on:

  • bullying prevention
  • preventing/stopping predator tricks
  • physical resistance strategies against abduction
  • internet safety
  • personal touch and personal space safety  
  • home, school, out & about safety

“These are priceless benefits on top of the invaluable gift of empowering our children,” Stynoski said.

For years, a lack of funding created a void leaving our community’s children vulnerable.

”The ripple effect can be tremendous,” Aime said adding, “Each trainer reaches 15 preschoolers, their parents, siblings and families with this information, and it just keeps spreading and reaching more kids.”

Both Carle Foundation Hospital and RACES have strong health education missions and understand the dire need to reduce violence against children.

“The program is a true gift to community – one that can be shared with hundreds if not every child in our community,” said Stynoski.

The gifts of safety and empowerment are hard to monetize but our community will reap these benefits for generations.

“Equipping our children with the knowledge, skills and power to protect themselves has life-saving implications,” Daley said.