The Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA: Strengthening the community through child sexual abuse prevention

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA strengthens the community in Orange County, North Carolina through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Serving more than 10,000 men, women, and children, regardless of age, income, or background, the Chapel Hill Y strives to nurture children and teens, improve the community’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to deliver lasting change.

THE CHALLENGE
As an organization committed to child protection, the Chapel Hill Y learned about Darkness to Light after completing a risk audit. Several YMCA staffers attended a series of D2L workshops and returned home energized and excited to implement prevention programs in their communities. “We believe every child deserves the chance to discover who they are and what they can achieve in a safe and nurturing environment. That’s why the chance to partner with D2L was so important to us,” said Kim Grooms, Executive Branch Director.

Armed with the desire and drive, all the Y needed to do was create a strategy for the initiative on the ground in their community – that is, with limited time and resources.

THE SOLUTION
Grooms, leading by example, implemented the new initiative in addition to her many other duties, gaining momentum and support at every turn, resulting in a truly collaborative effort across the community. “We really wanted to move forward with this, knowing that now is the time to protect kids and we have presence in the community. We couldn’t miss an important opportunity to serve and convene in this way.”

In addition to hosting a series of community awareness meetings that generated energy and excitement, representatives from area schools, the Department of Social Services, law enforcement, University of North Carolina public safety, and other child care providers united to create a local coalition. Through a generous grant from the Oak Foundation, the Y was able to hire a part-time prevention specialist and purchase marketing and training materials. The Y’s strong, established media partners were instrumental in getting the word out to the community. In essence, the community came together to take a stand on protecting children.

THE RESULT
In just four months, nearly 400 adults were trained in D2L’s Stewards of Children child sexual abuse prevention training program. And, because the Y serves a large Hispanic population, three bilingual facilitators began training in the community as well. Twenty facilitators of the program meet regularly to share successes and increase training opportunities.

Thanks to the Oak Foundation grant and additional funding from The Redwoods Group Foundation, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Y is able to offer scholarships to provide the training free of charge to the public. In addition to being a model for YMCAs and community organizations everywhere, the Chapel Hill Y is on its way to reaching its goal of training 7,300 adults by 2016 – and changing a community’s culture to better protect children!

YMCAs across the country are starting child sexual abuse prevention initiatives as part of their social responsibility focus area. According to Ralph Yohe, a former Y CEO who is now working to engage Ys in these efforts, “Ys are uniquely positioned to take a leadership role in prevention as we are often at the center of a community, we have a long history of tackling community issues and the protection and well being of children is at the core of our mission.”

Efforts are well underway in numerous  Y  communities across the Northeast and more will follow over time. This partnership is critical to gaining training commitment from youth serving agencies nationwide and will ultimately empower millions of adults to prevent child sexual abuse.

2 Responses to The Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA: Strengthening the community through child sexual abuse prevention

  • Leticia Hernandez says:

    As a Stewards of Children facilitator for 5 years. Since then i send out a flyer to the YMCA in our Community on a tearly basis and have yet to hear back from them about a training. I do know they serve alot of children. I hope that they will get your message out here in the west.

  • Jami Eager says:

    Letecia – If you need help speaking to your community YMCA, please feel free to contact me at jeager@cannonymca.org and I will be more than happy to help facilitate that conversation. I am with a YMCA in North Carolina, and have served as the Youth Director for 2 other YMCAs. I would love to be able to assist you in that!

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