JAMESTOWN - "We want to spread the word, Chautauqua County is working to end child sexual abuse," said Jana McDermott, Executive Director of the Child Advocacy Program (CAP), and organizer of the Stewards of Children campaign under way throughout Chautauqua County.
In December 2011, CAP launched Stewards of Children, a national initiative aimed at equipping communities with the tools needed to end child sexual abuse. The goal is to have 5,000 Chautauqua County adults complete the training over the next five years. Why 5,000 adults? Given Chautauqua County's adult population, 5,000 represents nearly 5 percent, which is identified as the "tipping point", or the number of adults needed in order to begin to make a culture shift and create behavioral change. "The behavioral change we are looking for is for adults to learn new skills and for organizations to put in place procedures to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse," McDermott said.
Chautauqua County is off to a good start. McDermott has single-handedly trained 167 county residents so far, with more trainings scheduled. Even better, McDermott now has help. On May 8, CAP sponsored a Stewards of Children (SOC) train-the-trainer Facilitators Workshop, whereby 31 county residents became authorized to facilitate SOC trainings along with McDermott.
"We had a diverse sampling of agencies and individuals at our Facilitators Workshop," notes McDermott.
In addition to CAP, youth serving agencies represented include: BOCES; Boys & Girls Club of Jamestown; Chautauqua Children's Safety Education Village; Chautauqua County Departments of Mental Hygiene, Probation and Social Services; Chautauqua Lake Child Care Center; East Randolph United Methodist Church; Emmanuel Temple Church; Fredonia Central School; Grandview Farms; Lutheran Social Services; Jamestown Family YMCA; private practitioners; The Resource Center; The Salvation Army Anew Center; and SUNY Fredonia. The Facilitators are now able to conduct additional SOC trainings over the next five years, with hopes of reaching a minimum of 5,000 adults.
"The community response has been phenomenal," notes McDermott. "Hosting the Facilitators Workshop is a $10,000 investment in our community. We brought national trainer Carol Hogue, from Darkness 2 Light (D2L.org), to Jamestown and identified 31 residents with a desire to become SOC Facilitators. These Facilitators will now go in to the community fully prepared to bring the issue of child sexual abuse into the light. They will educate community members, schools, camp counselors and adults everywhere on the issue of child sexual abuse, including simple and proactive steps for everyone to become more vigilant when it comes to protecting our children."
Funding for the Facilitators Workshop was provided by a grant from The R.C. Sheldon Foundation and the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation.
The following Facilitators are available to provide SOC trainings to the community: Kathy Abbate, Sara Becker, Melissa Dorchak, Cynthia Eimers, Leslie Filsinger, Linda Finn, Sylvia Gray, Elaine Hammond, Nicole Illig, Benny Karlson, Terri Kindberg, Michelle Maione, Bridget Majka, Brian Masciadrelli, Rodney Mileham, Tammie Newman, Kimberly Osborne, Ignacio Parra, Victoria Patti, Julie Peters, Ronda Piazza, Paula Pichon, Christina Rosengren, Dawn Samuelson, Tammy Simmons, Elizabeth Starks, Melissa Stelmack, Denise Straub, Marsha Sullivan, Peter Szynski, and Dianne Woolen.
According to information on the D2L.org website, each adult who attends the training is better able to protect 10 children each year. "Don't be afraid to talk to your children and each other. Child sexual abuse gains power from the secrecy that surrounds it," McDermott said.
The next Stewards of Children training is scheduled for July 24 at CAP's Jamestown location, from 6 to 9 pm. The $10 fee includes an interactive workbook. Additional dates and times are available. For information on hosting or attending SOC training contact CAP at 338-9844.