People with Special Needs

Practicing how to set boundaries.

People of all ages with disabilities or other special needs are especially vulnerable to facing bullying, abuse, or assault. We’ve been successful in teaching self-protection and personal safety skills to tens of thousands of children, teens, and adults with difficult life challenges such as: developmental delays; difficulty with vision, hearing, or mobility; or personal struggles with domestic violence, homelessness, substance abuse, or being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.

I have been blind since birth and have severe Cerebral Palsy. Most people assume that someone like me would be helpless. The Kidpower training that I took over ten years ago as a child and teenager has shown me and others that this assumption is completely false…

I am powerful. I am independent. And I can protect myself.”
— Andrea Goddard

Skills for People with Disabilities

Our workshops are tailored to work with the strengths of every single student. We make adaptations for how different people’s bodies and minds work, focusing on what they can do, rather than what they cannot not. We teach the full spectrum of People Safety skills including:

  • Being and acting aware
  • Setting boundaries
  • Staying safe from bullying or verbal attack
  • Getting help
  • Staying safe while riding public transit;
  • Making safe choices with support tools such as canes, service dogs, and wheelchairs
  • Learning effective physical self-defense skills without being able to see the target or while seated in a wheelchair.

Kidpower Teaching Method: How do we teach these skills?

We work with participants and their supporters to identify their strengths and then to work with those strengths to stay safe. Thousands of students of all cognitive and physical abilities have found our services to be relevant, interesting, and well-suited for their own ways of moving, thinking, perceiving, and communicating.

Our workshops offer a safe and secure environment for “learning by doing” through role-play and positive examples. We focus on what people have the power to do, not on what they can’t do, and we have fun while developing powerful and practical skills. We work with partner organizations and schools to find funding so that their students and participants can have the opportunity to learn these skills, and we provide Training of Professionals so that educators, social workers, and other staff can integrate our program into their curriculum and activities

What about services for people facing other life challenges?

For each of us, our belief in our right to be safe and in our ability to protect ourselves is the biggest self-protection tool we have. Belief in one’s power to take charge of one’s safety can be seriously damaged for individuals who are survivors of assault, child abuse, domestic violence or a hate crime or who are struggling with personal issues such as homelessness, poverty, or substance abuse.

Our workshops help people to develop a strong set of safety skills within the context of the effect of past experiences on how to weigh options and make safe choices.

Our goal is to provide our participants with tools to make choices and take action that will help them stay physically and emotionally safe while acknowledging and respecting the hard issues they face.

Our workshops for the general public are appropriate for most students who have difficult life challenges. We also provide Teenpower and Fullpower workshops for participants and Training of Professionals for staff of homeless shelters, domestic violence prevention programs, organizations helping people who are targets of prejudice, alcohol and drug treatment programs, and organizations supporting survivors of childhood sexual abuse

What educational resources are available?

Our RelationsSafe Books are inclusive of young people of all abilities and contain inspiring stories, clear examples, and step-by-step directions in how to use Kidpower’s advocacy, intervention, and personal safety strategies and skills for both the general public and professionals:

Our cartoon-illustrated books make it easy and entertaining to discuss and practice these essential skills with children and youth and are extremely popular both with individuals with special needs and typically developing youth:

In addition, we have an extensive free online Library with articles, audio, and videos. Here are some of the most popular for families with members with special needs, for educators, and other professionals (many of the following resources are open to the public and we also have a free resource library membership available):

Please consider joining us in celebrating International Child Protection Month to honor, inspire,and support adult leadership in keeping kids of all abilities safe from harm and empowering them with skills for take charge of their well being. We provide important free online resources you can use and share during September and throughout the year.

Many professionals and parents supporting young people with disabilities participate in our three-day Kidpower Skills for Child Protection Advocates Institute.

If you don’t have a Kidpower center close to your community, consider setting up a new one and training as an instructor. We also train teachers and other professionals to include People Safety Skills in their programs and schools so that people everywhere can learn how to protect their emotional and physical safety.

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