Let the cash flow

STALLINGS – Children and parents in Stallings will soon benefit from the new child safety program, radKIDS, which empowers children and teaches them self-defense. But that’s only if the town can raise enough money to fund it.

RadKids, a nationally recognized child safety program partnered by Elizabeth Smart’s Foundation, teaches children to become empowered, be aware of their surroundings and how to respond swiftly and appropriately if approached or attacked. The program is based on muscle memory and brain learning theories, where children learn best through movement and repetition rather than talks and lectures, according to a town press release.

Town Manager Brian Matthews said a local resident, Mian Rex, approached him about working to provide child safety training in the community.

“She had done a lot of research on possible programs and we liked the empowerment aspect of this program,” Matthews said. “Her passion about child safety convinced me to look into the program and I liked what I saw.”

And with support from the Stallings Police Department, Matthews said the next step was convincing town council of the program’s importance.

“I met with our chief of police to see if this was something we could get the officers behind,” Matthews said. “He thought the concept had great merit, so we approached the town council.”

But the cash isn’t there. Matthews said the town will look into starting the program as soon as enough money is raised to fund it.
Stallings approved a fundraiser golf tournament for Oct. 4, with proceeds going toward implementing the radKIDS program in town. The golf fundraiser, which was discontinued in 2006, was reinstated to help raise money for the program and some other non-essential police equipment needs.

On Sept. 6, the Subway of Stevens Mills Road and the Stallings Police Department will host “Keep Kids Safe,” a presentation by radKIDS founder Stephen Daley. The presentation is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Stallings Elementary School, 3501 Stallings Road.

“We believe the community will benefit by helping to teach our children to be confident and boost their self-esteem by letting them know that they don’t have to be victims – they can be empowered,” Matthews said, adding the town is expected to run the radKIDS program and capable and trustworthy individuals will be selected to instruct the children of the community.

“It is our intention to offer this program at no charge to our residents, depending on if we receive enough donations to implement it,” Matthews said. “We hope the program will be well received by the community and that we have a successful turnout of participants the first year. If so, we plan to continue the program and possibly expand, offering more classes.”

RadKIDS boasts more than 82 children have escaped abduction because of their program, which teaches children the skills they need in order to protect themselves.

“Children are targeted as victims because they are more vulnerable than adults,” according to the radKIDS parent brochure. “They are more trusting and far easier to lure into dangerous situations.”

The program aims to strengthen families, encourage physical fitness and teach core life skills to children 5 to 12 years old.

Curriculum topics include: home, school, vehicle and out and about safety; predator tricks including physical resistance strategies against abduction; Internet safety; good, bad and uncomfortable touch; and the radKIDS “Revolutionary Bullying Prevention Program.”

The program claims to be the national leader in children’s safety education, with nationally certified local instructors. RadKIDS has been offered in schools, local recreation programs, day camps, scouting and religious youth groups.

“This program fits perfectly with our mission to build a foundation for a safer future,” said Stallings Chief of Police Minor Plyler. “I hope the community will come out and learn what this program can do for our community.”

For more information or questions, contact the Stallings Police Department at 704-821-0300 or visit www.townof stallingsgolfclassic.com.

For more information on the radKIDS program, visit www.radkids.org or call 508-760-2080.

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