Sunrise Elementary student Ainsley Cardall recently learned how to block a potential predator through the radKIDS program.
“I learned how to do a forward and reverse elbow, how to run for safety and tell someone to stay back if I didn’t feel comfortable,” she said, before demonstrating it to her classmates and their parents at her Dec. 12 graduation from the program.
It’s all part of Sunrise Elementary’s radKIDS program. radKIDS is a 10-hour national personal empowerment safety education program designed for children ages 5 through 13 that emphasizes decision-making skills, as well as physical resistance options to escape violence.
It is taught by Sunrise volunteers who have received intensive training from radKIDS founder Steve Daley. They teach students three main points: one, nobody has the right to hurt you; two, you don’t have the right to hurt anyone else; and three, if someone hurts you, it’s not your fault and you can tell a trusted adult, Sunrise volunteer instructor Damon Hudson said.
Ainsley’s mother, Meredith Cardall, is a firm believer in the program.
“It’s an amazing program for her,” she said. “She is gaining so many important life skills in many different areas. Hopefully, she’ll never have to use the skills where she will be physically attacked, but she is being empowered to say ‘no’ and have control over what happens to her and her body.”
Ainsley’s classmate, Karliane Graybeal, practiced a brace position for a couple of days before mastering it. Karliane’s mother, Velvet Graybeal, said that her daughter now is learning how to be in control of emotional and physical situations.
“The program just doesn’t say what to do; they get that hands-on practice that makes a difference,” Graybeal said. “They get to practice using a loud voice, use their strength to hit and fend off unwanted approaches of a stranger, practice running to find mom or someone they feel safe with. I love the confidence it is giving them.”
Hudson, who dresses in a padded suit for the students’ graduation, said that he has realized many of the shy students excel and are able to “explode, hit just at the right spot, and come out of their shells knowing just what to do.”
The program talks about gun safety, good/bad touch and being safe in a number of situations, and teaches participants the skills of what to do in these situations.
“We can’t be there every time to help our kids, but we can trust that they have been taught what to do and have practiced; so if a situation comes up, they’re prepared. It’s a great program where students learn it by listening and practicing so it stays in their brains,” Hudson said.
Principal Margaret Swanicke said that the $6,000 program, which is paid for through a Parent-Teacher Association fundraiser, also helps teach students about character education and anti-bullying methods, as well as safety skills.