Northeast Opportunities for Wellness, Inc. (NOW) will offer free training to area youth serving organizations & community members in the Darkness to Light Stewards of Children program over the spring and fall of 2019. The program, which teaches adults how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse, is designed for individuals concerned about the safety of children as well as organizations that serve youth. The 2019 training is supported by funds donated from the Brooklyn Cares Program at the Brooklyn Correctional Institution.
There are currently three training sessions scheduled for 2019, with the first training set for Wednesday February 6th at United Services, Inc. in Dayville. Response to the February session has been positive, with a full list of registrants set to receive the two-hour training. A second training session is set for April 11th at TEEG in Thompson from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. and a third session is planned for October 10th in Plainfield. All sessions are free and open to the public, with registration required and available through the NOW website.
In 2017, NOW established the NOW Safe Coaching Program, which offered several training sessions in Darkness to Light Stewards of Children to partner youth sports organization boards and coaches during the spring and fall sports seasons. Stewards of Children is the only nationally available program scientifically proven to increase knowledge, improve attitudes and change child-protective behaviors.
In 2018, NOW expanded the program to include educators, youth mentors and any community members interested in child abuse prevention. Led by NOW Board member and authorized Darkness to Light Facilitator Joe Couture, NOW hosted three free training sessions in April, June, and September, with a total of 36 individuals trained. Joe Couture has been credited with being one of the most active facilitators in the state of Connecticut.
NOW Executive Director Sarah Wolfburg commented, “Our goal is to ensure that children have a healthy foundation, and part of building that foundation is to guarantee that children are safe when engaging with adults. It is important to NOW that all adults working with children have the tools and training to ensure safe interactions and that best practices are being observed.” Long-term, the goal for the program is for NOW and other local organizations to become “Partners in Prevention” with 90% or more of employees and volunteers who interact with youth receiving the training. In addition to the three training sessions currently open to the public, NOW is willing to work with organizations to schedule private sessions for groups of 5 or more.