By Becca Kronebusch
The Buckley Public Service Scholars program (BPSS) strives to provide students with various diverse, specialized training opportunities within the community. One recent training partnership between BPSS and the YMCA of the Triangle taught students on how to effectively protect children from abuse through the Stewards of Children program.
Ryan Nilsen, program officer for the Carolina Center for Public Service, said there was a great deal of interest in training programs promoting child safety.
“It was a great fit because we have so many students looking for trainings and so many of those students are working directly with children,” Nilsen said.
Meredith Stewart, director of Child Safety and Program Risk at the YMCA, is a passionate advocate for Stewards of Children and leads most training sessions. In her training sessions, Stewart shares that one out of every 10 children is sexually assaulted in the United States. Learning about how to protect children in our community is paramount to ending child abuse.
“The sexual abuse of children is preventable, and I might have some information… that, if shared with other adults, can save a child,” Stewart said. “It is my responsibility to share this education with others so that children are protected and cared for and we, as a community, grow the next generation of healthy adults.”
Training sessions cover the five steps of protecting children: learning the facts, minimizing the opportunity, talking about it, recognizing the signs and reacting responsibly.
BPSS student Julia Corbett, a junior public policy and economics major from Somers, New York, said she participated in the training because as a camp counselor and babysitter, she cares about the children she interacts with.
“The most beneficial part of the training for me was the video interviews with survivors of child sexual abuse,” Corbett said. “Their stories were revealing and informative, and it helped me understand how abuse happens, what it looks like and its impact on children and survivors.”
Stewart also said she values the partnership between BPSS and Stewards of Children. One of her favorite parts about these sessions is meeting different people and learning from them.
“The story of child sexual abuse is not mine alone to tell,” she said. “I am just a messenger and teacher of prevention and awareness. I always say the best way to learn something is to teach it so I will keep teaching and learning… to change the statistics on child abuse.”
Stewards of Children will continue to partner with BPSS to train more students to successfully advocate for all children. The program also has community training sessions in various locations across the Triangle. Visit the YMCA of the Triangle to learn more or register for a community training session.