From the Heart of Sara, (Stewards of Children Facilitator)
As a retiree from the Ann Arbor Public Schools, I’ve worked with many children who were survivors of sexual abuse and their experiences were troubling to me. At a point in my life when time permitted, I knew that I wanted to make a difference. The Stewards of Children (SOC) program offered through Washtenaw Area Council for Children (WACC) is an effective, evidence-based program that is successful in helping to prevent child sexual abuse. When an opportunity arose, I was thrilled to become a certified facilitator of the program.
Working with WACC has allowed me to interact with a variety of adult audiences including: parents, health care professionals, school district employees, youth-serving organizations, child care staff, university representatives and more. Through those experiences, my eyes have been opened to the massive problem of child sexual abuse. Its residue has affected one in ten children, and the associated impact that stem from this abuse, ripples through our community.
We are doing our part to make a difference in Washtenaw County. Participants of our workshops leave with a commitment to look, listen and watch, a method that can make a significant difference in preventing the abuse of children. They are prepared to respond if a child discloses, or if they suspect or discover child sexual abuse in another way.
Child Abuse is a serious, and sometimes uncomfortable topic to discuss; yet it is a discussion worth having! Some of our caregivers are hesitant at the onset, but have found solace by the end of the program. Fortunately, they find the material to be informative and empowering. Many organizations have created or revised policies to increase awareness and reduce the risk of child sexual abuse. At each workshop I’ve presented, there has been at least one participant approach me afterwards to share a poignant story of how childhood sexual abuse has touched them.
One participant who has been a Director of a child care center for 30 years was struck by the thought of caring for countless children who could have been sexually abused, yet she may have been unaware. After the workshop, she felt better equipped to both watch for signs in children, and take appropriate action. It’s moments like those that reaffirm my appreciation for the importance of this program.
– Sara A.
What can you do to help? Your support is vital to the children and families of Washtenaw County! Generous donations from supporters like you, allow us to maintain our programs and services. Please consider providing a financial gift this holiday season, and help us continue the work of Keeping Kids Safe!
Jyoti Gupta, Executive Director