Kidpower Safety Signals Overview

Kidpower Safety Signals Overview 

Calm Down Power Safety Sign

As part of our Bridges to People Safety Initiative, we have created Kidpower’s International Safety Signals to help teachers, family members, and other caregivers teach “People Safety” skills and concepts to individuals with very limited or no speech. It provides a person with a usable international language to communicate effectively with others, advocate for themselves, and seek help in unsafe situations.

These Safety Signals were developed for people who have difficulty speaking due to developmental delays and other disabilities. However, toddlers and preschoolers also really enjoy and use the Safety Signals. In fact, we are finding these signals useful for anyone who wants an easy way to remember key People Safety ideas and skills.

What are the Kidpower Safety Signals?

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 use these signals, along with simple gestures and simple words, to teach powerful safety skills and concepts quickly and easily.

The Kidpower Safety Signals were originally to help teachers, family members, and other caregivers teach ‘People Safety’ skills and concepts to people with developmental disabilities who have limited speech or no speech at all. Since their creation, the Safety Signals have proven useful to many people who want an easy way to remember key ‘People Safety’ concepts – including people with developmental disabilities, young children, college students, and corporate managers.  Kidpower Safety Signals are useful for everyone, everywhere!

Four Keys to Success in Learning About Safety

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

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

  1. Make it simple – because simple things are easier to remember
  2. Be consistent – because consistent messages make more sense
  3. Practice – a lot! – because successful practice makes skills stronger
  4. 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. 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.

Using the Safety Signals – Includes Free Downloads

Each of the Safety Signals uses a simple gesture to indicate a basic “People Safety” rule or skill. We use the term “People Safety” to mean people being emotionally and physically safe with people.

These gestures are easy to do and repeat, allowing for ongoing practice and continual skill development. These Safety Signals can be put onto illustrated cue cards and charts to show what the skill is and when to use it to prevent and solve different problems.

The Five Safety Plan Signals are important to review before going out – out of the house, out on the schoolyard, or out in the community. They are: Stay AwareStay TogetherCheck FirstMove Away, and Get Help.

The Ten Safety Powers are useful in developing a common language and understanding about core skills. Instead of defining power in terms of strength, power is defined as taking charge of what you say and do. The Ten Safety Powers are: Calm Down PowerMouth Closed Power (or Safe Mouth Power), Hands and Feet Down PowerSpeak Up PowerListening PowerStop PowerMove Away PowerGet Help PowerTrash Can Power, and Thank You Power.

Here are Kidpower’s International Safety Signals as well as specific directions on how to teach them to others.

You may download the Safety Signals for your own personal use and to use in your work or classroom environment. Please use the PDFs as they are or contact us for permission to use in other ways.

My child used to explode in fits of rage. I would get frantic, which made things worse. Now, as soon as I see him start to get upset, I remind him, “Joey, Calm Down Power!’ I make the Calm Down Power signal and so does he – and we both calm down!


Thank You to the Special Hope Foundation for Funding This Pilot Program!

The Special Hope Foundation is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities. They seek out projects that are “unique, innovative, and that challenge the prevailing attitudes” toward people with special needs. We are honored to have their three-year support for this important project that will help people with little to no verbal speech learn skills to be safe.

For many years, we have had great success teaching People Safety skills to people of any age with limited verbal skills. Parents, teachers, and other professionals have watched and said, “Please show us how to do that!” This project is our response to their requests.

Thanks to the Special Hope Foundation and other partners including the Cisco Foundation, Kidpower is developing written, audio, and video materials to empower professionals and parents to teach people with limited verbal skills how to keep themselves safe from violence and abuse.


In addition to the Special Hope Foundation mentioned above, we want to thank the Cisco Foundation for funding the videos we will be creating for this project.

We also want to acknowledge our Advisors whose help with our Needs Assessment and with Field-testing are essential to the success of this project. Special thanks go to:

People with limited verbal skills deserve to learn how to use their power to be safe.

People with limited verbal skills deserve to learn how to use their power to be safe.

  • John Luna-Sparks, LCSW and Kidpower Senior Program Leader and exceptional instructor, whose guidance has been essential at each phase of this project;
  • Marcy Mock, talented and dedicated Special Education Teacher for experimenting with different ideas in her classroom; and,
  • Marie Galay, a compassionate and wonderful expert working in the Duchess Group Home, for her insights into the needs of staff working with adults with developmental delays in a group home setting.

We also want to acknowledge Irene van der Zande for creating the Safety Signals concept, Patrick Heaviside for drawing the signals, Amanda Golert for putting the drawings into our cartoon style, and Chantal Keeney for writing the Directions.

Bridges to People Safety

To learn more about our work with people with special needs, please go to Bridges to People Safety, learn about Personal Safety Skills for people with special needs, or email us with questions or comments.

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