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Helping Kids Help Themselves

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Dakota Sandras

One in three girls and one in six boys are sexually assaulted by their 18th birthday.

In Teller and El Paso County there are approximately 150,000 people under 18. If there are equal numbers of girls and boys, one could estimate that there are nearly 38,000 kids who will be or already have been abused in the Pikes Peak region alone. Kidpower of Colorado Springs has set out to lower that number.

Jan Isaacs Henry was a psychotherapist and counseled numerous people through tragedy, often dealing with cases of assault. She knew she wanted to protect kids from the pain she saw her patients go through. In order to address this unmet community need, Henry opened a local Kidpower International branch in 1994.

The mission of Kidpower of Colorado Springs is to prevent. The programs teach children personal safety and confidence-building skills in order to reduce the risk of abduction, assault, and emotional and physical abuse.

Kidpower offers safety education in a variety of formats, but the most common is a four-hour class taught in local schools. Typically, they charge a fee of about $28 a student, but they ensure that no child is left out due to lack of funds. Because they have started teaching in many low-income, at-risk schools, Kidpower uses grant funding, like the $15,000 from El Pomar, to conduct workshops in those places where families can’t afford the fee.

In Kidpower’s first year the organization saw 164 kids. Today it serves 3,000 kids annually.

For Henry, the organization’s executive director, and Program Manager Natalie Yungner the best part of their work is the impact Kidpower is having in the community. And the impact is found in stories like this one, shared by Henry:

Two young girls were walking home from school one day with their mom after a Kidpower presentation (parents are invited to attend too). One of them turned to her mother and said she had a “Kidpower problem” to talk about. No parent wants to hear about how their child has been hurt, but she kept calm, remembering the listening instructions Kidpower provided. The young girl proceeded to tell her mom about a recurring situation of abuse that was happening to her and her sister. Because of the communication skills Kidpower taught the family, the situation was addressed in a way that ensured the girls’ future safety and consequences for the offender.

Pictured above is intern, Dakota Sandras, with Kidpower Executive Director, Jan Isaacs Henry (left), and Program Manager, Natalie Yungner (middle).