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Transcript: Gift of Kidpower (6:19)
I learned about Kidpower from a 12-year-old girl in 1993. I was her teacher, and she was one of my students. One morning she arrived full of excitement, saying that she had “gone to Kidpower!” And, with all of herself — her words and her gestures and her face and her voice — she showed me for the first time the possible impact that Kidpower can have on a single person. The girl who had left Friday afternoon had returned on Monday not just with crucial safety skills, but also infused with a kind of self-assured confidence. Nothing about her world had changed, but SHE had changed, and how she looked at her own ability to take charge of her safety and her well-being, that had changed.
I wanted to be a part of whatever it was that had the power to bring about that kind of change so quickly. Many years and hundreds of Kidpower workshops later, I have watched it happen over and over. Children, teens, adults… Teachers, parents, social workers…. In just a few hours, they seem surprised and invigorated by their own abilities, abilities we actually don’t give to students, because they had the abilities all along — we just create opportunities for people to recognize those abilities and develop confidence in them so they can use them consciously to keep themselves safe.
I remember a thirteen year old girl who came to Kidpower twice, and my memory is of her walking into that second class accompanied by another girl. She announced, “I’m back, and I brought my cousin. We were with our grandpa at the car wash, and a man tried to get her to go in his car. I used my Kidpower. I stopped her, and I yelled, and we ran to Grandpa. The man drove away, and we were safe, but I want more practice, and I made my cousin come. She needs Kidpower, too.”
I remember the story of two little boys we never taught directly. We taught their teachers, who then taught Kidpower in Spanish to their preschoolers in a neighborhood coping with poverty and a high rate of violence. The director wrote us a letter that says, “One of our students, a four year old boy, witnessed his father being shot and killed two years ago. Understandably, this child is dealing with lots of trauma that comes out in different ways, and we are working hard to help him be successful. A week ago, this boy started choking another child, also a four year old. The child being choked yelled, in Spanish, ‘Stop, I don’t like that!’ –exact words that he had practiced in his Kidpower lesson — and it worked. The boy instantly let go. I believe that if our children had not had the Kidpower training,” the director wrote, “these boys would have been fighting.”
Safety is something that happens when individual people, right where they are, make safer choices. Laws, rules, and supervision are truly important parts of keeping people safe, but at those moments when a single choice has the power to direct things away from danger toward safety, whether it’s on a playground or in a home or on the street or on the Internet, only the people involved in that place at that moment are in a position to make a difference. They deserve choices, skills, and the confidence to put their ideas into action.
Kidpower offers the full package – skills together with the confidence to use them to create safety at the moment it matters most. Our community of donors helps us uphold our commitment to make Kidpower widely accessible to everyone, everywhere, especially to those most in need, both through our workshops and our educational resources. The children whose stories I just told learned Kidpower because strangers donated money with the belief that their gift of Kidpower would keep people safe. And it DID keep these children safe, long after their gifts were given.
Bullying, violent, and abusive behavior will likely continue — there’s strong evidence suggesting they are part of human nature. But bullying, violence, and abuse are not ALL of human nature. The desire to live in peace, the willingness and the capacity to take charge to keep ourselves and others safe, the ability to empathize and recognize these things in others whose lives are much different from our own — these are also part of human nature.
By using our full power, including these very best parts of ourselves, and equipping others to do the same, we have the potential to change the future of violence and abuse, one person at a time, not by eliminating the possibility of it but by strengthening our ability to take action in the face of it so that the possibility of violence is replaced with the reality of safety, one story at a time.
We know how to do it, and we need your help. On behalf of all of us at Kidpower and all those we serve, thank you for giving what you can.