Kidpower Safety Signals for Everyone, Everywhere

Four Keys to Learning Safety Skills

Written by Irene van der Zande, Kidpower Founder and Executive Director

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Practicing the Heartpower Safety Signal.

Kidpower Safety Signals are simple gestures, words, and drawings that make it easy to teach, learn, and remember the key interpersonal safety strategies, concepts, and skills we teach to children, teens, and adults, including those with special needs, of many different cultures around the world.

Bullying, abuse, and other violence are among the leading public health issues of our time. The good news is that a few simple ‘People Safety’ skills can stop most problems before they get dangerous. Millions of people of all ages and abilities have learned and used these skills to stay safe.

The graphics and directions for using the Kidpower Safety Signals are available here in PDF format.

For Permission to Use Guidelines, detailed directions on how to teach and practice the Kidpower Safety Signals, and training opportunities, please Contact Us.

What inspired the creation of the Kidpower Safety Signals?

As part of our Bridges to People Safety Project, we first created the Kidpower Safety Signals to help teachers, family members, and other caregivers teach “People Safety” skills and knowledge to individuals with limited or no speech – as well as to help verbal people who think very concretely such as those with autism or Asperger’s to learn and remember core safety skills. As often happens when we develop curriculum for one specific group, we then found that our Kidpower Safety Signals are useful for everyone, everywhere  including  young children, college students, and corporate managers.

For many years, Kidpower has had great success teaching People Safety skills to people of any age with developmental disabilities and intellectual challenges. Parents, teachers, and other professionals have watched and said, “Please show us how to do that!” The Bridges to People Safety Project was our response to their requests.

The problems of bullying, violence, and abuse can seem complex and confusing. Kidpower ‘People Safety’ skills provide solutions.  ‘People Safety’ skills help people be emotionally and physically safe with people everywhere they go. The Kidpower Safety Signals show core ‘People Safety’ skills and concepts in their simplest forms.  Parents, caregivers, and professionals are using these signals, along with simple gestures and simple words, to teach powerful safety skills and concepts quickly and easily.

For everyone, the four keys to success in learning important safety skills are:

  • Make it simple – because simple things are easier to remember
  • Be consistent – because consistent messages make more sense
  • Practice – a lot! – because successful practice makes skills stronger
  • Make it relevant – because people learn a skill faster when it seems useful

These keys are even more important for individuals who tend to think in concrete, simple terms, such as young children and people with developmental disabilities. However, family members, teachers, and professionals will often use highly varying words and ideas to explain about safety, which can be confusing.

Kidpower Safety Signals help everyone be simple and consistent so that skills develop more effectively.  They create a common language that makes it easy and fun for everyone, everywhere, to use the same words, gestures, and ideas about staying safe with people.

Here are some of the ways that people use the Kidpower Safety Signals:

  • Kidpower Safety Plan Signals for Going Out
  • Kidpower Safety Powers for Taking Charge of Your Feelings and Your Body
  • Kidpower Safety Powers for Building Better Relationships
  • Kidpower Safety Powers for Taking Charge of Your Safety

Thank you to the Special Hope Foundation for the three-year pilot program funding of this ground-breaking Bridges to ‘People Safety’ Project.  Thank you to the Cisco Systems Foundation for supporting the development of the project’s educational micro-videos.

The graphics and directions for using the Kidpower Safety Signals are available here in PDF format.

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About the Author

Irene van der Zande, Kidpower Founder and Executive Director
Kidpower Founder and Executive Irene van der Zande is a master at teaching safety through stories and practices and at inspiring others to do the same. Her child protection and personal safety expertise has been featured by USA Today, CNN, Today Moms, the LA Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Publications include: Bullying: What Adults Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe, the Kidpower Safety Comics series, the Relationship Safety Skills Handbook for Teens and Adults, and The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People.
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